Champions League

Barca into quarter-finals

2012-03-08 07:12
Lionel Messi (AFP)

Paris - Barcelona's World Player of the Year Lionel Messi and unheralded Cypriot side APOEL FC rewrote the Champions League record books on Wednesday.

In Catalonia, Messi became the first player to score five goals in a Champions League tie as titleholders Barcelona routed Bayer Leverkusen 7-1 to reach the quarter-finals with a crushing 10-2 aggregate win.

And over in Nicosia, APOEL became the first side from Cyprus to make it to the last eight with a 4-3 penalty shoot-out win over their more illustrious French rivals Lyon in their last 16 second leg tie.

APOEL emerged 1-0 winners on the night after Brazilian midfielder Gustavo Manduca's ninth-minute goal had left the tie delicately poised at 1-1 on aggregate and the two sides remained inseparable after extra time.

Goalkeeper Dionisis Chiotis then emerged as the hosts' hero after stopping spot kicks from Alexandre Lacazette and Michel Bastos to trigger jubilant scenes at the GSP stadium.

Messi meanwhile bettered his previous record of four against Arsenal two seasons ago and now has 12 goals from seven Champions League matches this season after a majestic attacking performance.

The Argentine legend said: "I'm happy, it's great to score five, but the important thing tonight was the win and to qualify for the quarter-finals.

"Now, no matter who we meet, it's going to be very complicated, there are only good sides left in.

"We know it's hard for us in the Liga (against Real Madrid), but we want to defend our Champions League title and we are also keeping in our minds the Spanish Cup."

Trailing 3-1 from the first leg it was always going to be a tough task for Bayer with Barca unbeaten in 13 European home games and they never appeared likely to end that run.

Messi struck twice before the break and then hit a further three after the restart while youngster Christian Tello also grabbed a brace.

In the final minute Karim Bellarabi scored for a shell-shocked German side.

"You can expect anything from Leo," said teammate Cesc Fabregas. "He is the best player in history, we have never seen anyone like him.

"He didn't play at the weekend (Messi was suspended) and he wanted to do well. He enjoys being on the pitch and we are happy to have him."

Lyon midfielder Kim Kallstrom was distraught after his side had come off second best in the penalty shoot-out lottery to minnows APOEL.

"It is the worst way to go out," the Swedish international said.

"Over the two games, I think we should have scored more at home. Today, it was much more balanced. And when it comes to the penalty shootout anything can happen. We're in a tough situation now. But we'll fight to be back."

On Tuesday, former champions AC Milan squeezed into the quarter-finals though not as comfortably as expected, the Italians losing 3-0 at Arsenal to progress 4-3 on aggregate.

Milan -- who conceded three goals in the Champions League for the first time since April 2004 when they went on to lose 4-0 to Deportivo La Coruna -- were joined in the last eight by Portuguese side Benfica.

Benfica produced a professional performance to beat Russian champions Zenit Saint-Petersburg 2-0 for a 4-3 aggregate win to end a three-game winless streak and make the quarters for the first time since 2006.

Next week sees the quarter-final cast list completed with last 16, second legs ties featuring Inter Milan v Marseille, Bayern Munich v Basel, Chelsea v Napoli, and Real Madrid v CSKA Moscow.

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