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Rediff.com  » Sports » Magical Messi fires Barca past Arsenal

Magical Messi fires Barca past Arsenal

April 07, 2010 06:53 IST

Lionel Messi netted a brilliant first-half hat-trick and added a late fourth to fire holders Barcelona past Arsenal into the last four of the Champions League on Tuesday.

If it was Barca's team play that ripped the Londoners to shreds in the first hour of last week's first leg, it was the sublime talent of the Argentina international that propelled Pep Guardiola's side to a 6-3 aggregate victory and set up a last-four clash with Inter Milan.

Arsenal grabbed a shock lead through Nicklas Bendtner in the 18th minute but from then on it was all about Messi, the 22-year-old scoring goals of sheer class in the 21st, 37th and 42nd minutes to all but kill off the visitors' hopes.

With two minutes of normal time remaining, Messi completed his virtuoso display with a fourth after pouncing on a rebound to drill home low.

The fourth took his tally in the competition to eight, putting him top of the scoring chart and added to the FIFA World Player of the Year's 26 La Liga goals this season.

Inter march on thanks to sharpshooter Sneijder

Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder propelled Inter Milan to their first Champions League semi-final since 2003 with an early goal that secured a 1-0 victory over CSKA Moscow in their last eight second leg clash.

Sneijder, who will play a key role for the Netherlands at the World Cup finals in South Africa, fired the Italians ahead less than six minutes into the game when his low 20-metre free kick skidded under CSKA's defensive wall and evaded goalkeeper Igor Akinfeyev.

With Inter holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg, Sneijder's goal all but killed the home team's chances as the Italian champions held firm for a comfortable 2-0 win on aggregate.

CSKA's Nigerian defender Chidi Odiah was sent off in the 49th minute after he picked up his second yellow card after a foul on Samuel Eto'o.

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