CL Result: Barcelona 1 Celtic 0
Xavi Hernández reserved Barcelona's place in the UEFA Champions League quarter final draw after his goal in the 2nd minute of the match broke the hearts and the game plan of Gordon Strachan's Celtic FC. Barcelona had to graft to secure the 1-0 win and the visiting side grew in confidence as the match wore on but were unable to convert any of the limited number of chances they created in to goals.
The visitors always faced an uphill task after losing the first leg 3-2 in Glasgow a fortnight ago. The Celtic coach had displayed some of his trademark humour before the match and quipped that it was going to be "like climbing Mount Everest and a few people have given their lives trying to do that in the past".
Unfortunately there was a casualty on the night as Barcelona's Lio Messi pulled up with a thigh injury that could rule him out for at least two months. The loss of the Argentine will be a considerable blow to Barcelona's La Liga and Champions League ambitions and the players tears are testimony to his fears that, should Barcelona reach the Champions League final, he will miss out once again as he did in Paris in 2003.
Xavi's fifth goal in eight matches in all competitions guaranteed that the Scottish Champion's unfavourable record of having never won a knockout tie in UEFA competition would continue for at least another season. Barcelona did not have it all their own way however, and in spite of threatening to heap more misery on their visitors throughout the first half, and with Ronaldinho showing signs of recovering some his old magical form, Celtic showed enough fight in the latter stages to warrant a degree of pride in their performance.
Unfortunately for Celtic, Aiden McGeady's man of the match performance was not enough to prevent Celtic from going down to their 16th Champions League away defeat in 17 games.
Barcelona will be delighted to have secured a place in the draw for the quarter finals in Nyon on March the 14th, but that joy will be tempered by the confirmation of the severity of Messi's injury. Frank Rijkaard was heavily criticised for resting the player in the weekend defeat to Atletico and there is a feeling amongst the players that the coach felt pressurised by the media in to selecting Messi, in spite of him not being fully fit. La Liga Review witnessed a particularly heated exchange between Barcelona captain Carles Puyol and several members of the local press in the post match mixed zone.
The sight of the young Argentine leaving the field so visibly distressed clearly had an impact on the Barcelona dressing room and after the match Frank Rijkaard said "Messi's injury affected the team tonight. He has been injured before and it's a very sad moment. Tomorrow we will get the results of the medical tests and we hope it's not as bad as it looks. The club medical staff are here to help players avoid getting injured and that's what we're all doing. The players' health is the most important thing; Messi was very sad and it's an injury he's had before."
Bojan Krkic did not feature in the match and the 17 year old substitute was therefore unable to fulfil his dream of becoming the Champions League youngest ever goal scorer. As Rijkaard subsequently explained "Messi's injury affected the rest of the substitutes I made during the game, that's why I decided against fielding Bojan".