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Messi Brace Downs Milan

A brace from Lionel Messi saw Barcelona run out 3-1 winners in their UEFA Champions League match against AC Milan at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night.

The result sees Barcelona at the top of Group H with ten points, five above AC Milan in second spot.

The opening 45 minutes was an affair dominated by the home side as they controlled almost 70 per cent of the possession and seemed to coast through the half.

Still, for all their dominance Barcelona only took a 2-1 scoreline into the half time break.

The game started with Xavi Hernandez trying his luck from a 25-yard free-kick, but his effort sailed just wide of the goal.

In the 20th minute Lionel Messi was inches away from giving his side the lead as he just missed an Adriano Correia cross – if he had been a centimetre taller he would have scored.

Finally, in the 28th minute Barcelona made their pressure tell as Ignazio Abate pulled down Neymar inside the box and the referee awarded a penalty.

Messi duly stepped up and converted the spot-kick, 1-0.

Ten minutes later and the home side found their second after Sergio Busquets headed home a left-wing Xavi free-kick, 2-0.

Milan did manage to pull a goal back in injury time of the first half, somewhat fortuitously, as Gerard Pique turned the ball into his own net as he tried to clear a low driven Kaka cross.

The second half was more of the same with Barcelona dictating terms, but Milan did pose a threat at the other end with the introduction of Mario Balotelli.

Barcelona, though, had a goal disallowed in the 51st minute after Messi flicked a Xavi shot into the net, but he was adjudged off-sides.

Only Milan’s goalkeeper, Christian Abbiati, kept his side in the match when he produced a fantastic save to deny Andres Iniesta from curling a shot into the top corner of the net in the 59th minute.

Three minutes later and the Balotelli factor came into play as the striker beat Javier Mascherano down the left with some superb strength and skill before playing Kaka in on goal, but his shot from six-yards out went inches wide of the target.

In the 75th minute Alex Sanchez should have scored after some brilliant interplay between Neymar and Messi saw him with only the keeper to beat, but Abbiati produced a breath-taking stop from close range to deny him.

The result was put beyond doubt in the 83rd minute as Messi found the third goal of the game after a one-two with Fabregas saw him with just the keeper to beat and he made no mistake, 3-1.

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