Barcelona's epic comeback crushes Milan

BARCELONA, Spain — Lionel Messi started one of soccer's classic comebacks with a pair of first-half goals, and Barcelona overwhelmed AC Milan to reach its sixth straight Champions League quarterfinal.

Messi scored in the fifth and 40th minutes, and Barcelona went on to a 4-0 victory Tuesday night that gave it a 4-2 aggregate win. Barcelona became the first team ever to advance in Europe's top club competition after losing the first leg 2-0 on the road.

"We went out gunning from the start, and scoring early helped us," said David Villa, who scored the third goal. "We have believed in the comeback ever since we lost in Milan, and belief combined with hard work is how you achieve things."

Before a screaming crowd of 99,786 at Camp Nou, Europe's largest stadium, scored to goalkeeper Christian Abbiati's right with curling left-footed shot into the upper corner from 17 yards between two defenders. He scored the second goal to Abbiati's left with a low 19-yard shot after Andres Iniesta stole the ball from Massimo Ambrosini, moving into sole possession of second on the Champions League career list with 58.

"For anyone who doubted Messi, today Messi gave a lesson on how to play football," said Barcelona assistant coach Jordi Roura, in charge of the team while Tito Vilanova is being treated for a throat tumor in New York. "He is extraordinary, and surrounded by great players, he is capable of doing what he does."

David Villa put Barcelona ahead in the series in the 55th minute with a 14-yard shot after Cristian Zapata's weak clearance was intercepted by Javier Mascherano, and Kevin Constant missed a sliding tackle on Xavi's through pass to the forward. Left back Jordi Alba sealed the win when he raced the length of the field on a counterattack keyed by a Messi pass in the second minute of stoppage time.

"Milan only needed a goal, but we knew how to handle the game very well," Alba said. "This is a very important win for us. A lot was at stake."

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