Barcelona booked their place in the Champions League final at Wembley with a draw against Real Madrid at the Nou Camp.
Barcelona 1 Real Madrid 1
The Catalans headed into the second leg of their semi-final clash with Real Madrid in pole position, having won a bad-tempered first leg 2-0 thanks to a late brace from Lionel Messi.
Jose Mourinho was forced to watch the second leg from his team’s hotel, ahving received a touchline ban, with current Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka standing in.
On a night of torrential rain in north-east Spain, it was Barcelona who set about attempting to extend their aggregate advantage, and had plenty of opportunities to do so.
Iker Casillas saved twice from the ever-dynamic Messi, and the now-Porto ‘keeper had to tip away a David Villa shot to maintain parity. Messi then dragged another effort wide from a good position and Pedro struck wide from the edge of the box.
Early in the second half Real thought they were right back in the tie as Gonzalo Higuain slotted past Victor Valdes, only for the goal to be ruled out for an earlier Cristiano Ronaldo foul on Javier Mascherano.
Barca made the visitors pay, with Andres Iniesta picking a perfect pass to put Pedro through on goal before the forward took one touch to steady himself and another to smash past Casillas.
There was a small moment of joy for Mourinho’s men as Angel di Maria teed up Marcelo after hitting the post; the Brazilian converted the feed well to make it 1-1 on the night and 3-1 to the hosts on aggregate.
The tempers threatened to boil over once again, just like the first leg, as desrcibed by the BBC.
“It threatened to get tetchy towards the end as Real’s increasingly desperate players found themselves only able to break Barca’s momentum by committing fouls but De Bleeckere magnificently stood up to the challenge and exerted his authority at the right moments to keep the players under control.”
Barcelona set up a Wembley final with Manchester United and a chance for revenge after their defeat to the Red Devils in Rome two years prior.
They would eventually go on to lift the trophy, beating United 3-1 with a dazzling second-half display in which Messi was the star.
Barcelona: Valdes, Daniel, Pique, Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Mascherano, Busquets, Villa, Messi, Pedro. Substitutes: Olazabal, Abidal, Keita, Afellay, Fontas, Thiago, Jeffren.
Goals: Pedro 54
Real Madrid: Casillas, Carvalho, Marcelo, Arbeloa, Albiol, Ronaldo, Kaka, Diarra, Alonso, Di Maria, Higuain. Substitutes: Dudek, Garay, Nacho, Granero, Ozil, Benzema, Adebayor.
Goals: Marcelo 64
What they said
Aitor Karanka, standing in for the banned Jose Mourinho, believed the night could only have on outcome.
“Mourinho was right; he said that it would be impossible for us to go through. This proved that it was impossible and 100 million people saw it – there is nothing more to add.”
“Playing 11 against 11 we have shown we can compete without complexes and it takes me back to the first game; if we had finished 0-0 (the score before Pepe was sent off), tonight’s 1-1 would have taken us through to the final.”
Cristiano Ronaldo had some strong words to add.
“Next year they might as well give the cup directly to Barcelona,” said the forward, a losing finalist to Barca in 2009. It was Mission Impossible 4.”
Madrid keeper Iker Casillas was equally angry.
“It has happened again – just like it always does,” he said, referring to the red card Pepe received in the first leg.
“We feel tricked and knocked down by the officials.”