Champions League

Iniesta: I was never away

2015-04-22 10:40
Andres Iniesta (AFP)

Madrid - Andres Iniesta will always be a hero to Barcelona and Spain fans but some had started to question whether the 30-year-old's best days were behind him.

The playmaker's outrageous skills were on full display again on Tuesday, however, as he cut through the Paris St Germain midfield and released Neymar in front of goal to put Barca 1-0 ahead in the 14th minute of their Champions League quarter-final, second leg.

Already leading 3-1 from last week's first leg in Paris, Neymar's goal, the first of a double in a 2-0 win for Barca on the night, effectively killed PSG's chances of a comeback.

The Catalan giants eased through to the last four for the seventh time in eight seasons and a record 11th time in the Champions League era.

Iniesta's stunning slalom in the buildup to the opening goal brought the home fans at the Nou Camp to their feet.

Receiving the ball from centre back Javier Mascherano deep in the Barca half with his back to the PSG goal, a clever feint took Iniesta past advancing midfielder Yohan Cabaye.

Forward Edinson Cavani attempted to rob the ball but Iniesta simply motored past him before a burst of pace took him away from midfielder Marco Verratti's desperate lunge.

Advancing on the retreating PSG back line, Iniesta waited until the perfect moment before threading a pass between the defenders and Neymar took the ball around PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu and poked it into the empty net.

It was only a third assist of the season for Iniesta in the Champions League, while he has made none in La Liga and two in the King's Cup as Barca chase a treble of trophies to match their historic haul from 2009 under Pep Guardiola.

"I was never away but some people see things one way and others another," Iniesta told reporters.

"I always try to do things well," he added.

"I am very happy with the way everything is working out. I think you can always improve everything."

Barca will learn who their opponents in the last four are in Friday's draw, with Bayern Munich already through after they crushed Porto on Tuesday.

Holders Real Madrid host Atletico Madrid later on Wednesday with the city rivals locked at 0-0, while Italian champions Juventus have a 1-0 advantage when they play at Ligue 1 side Monaco.

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