Barcelona: Gary Lineker, the former England and Barcelona forward, heaped praise on World Player of the Year Lionel Messi.
The Argentine scored twice to help Barca became the first team to overturn a two-goal first-leg deficit without the benefit of an away goal to advance to the last eight
“I am delighted that Barca got through. It was a victory against all odds and a triumph for football. Lionel Messi is simply brilliant, it is beyond belief. I saw a lot of (Diego) Maradona and played against him. Wonderful though he was, Messi is better and much more consistent.
“Lionel not only has the genius of Diego but is also as prolific a goalscorer as we have ever seen. Only genuine argument is the World Cup. Messi will be the same age next year as Maradona was in 1986. I sense his moment will come.”
It’s not just Lineker, former Inter Milan and Italy defender Marco Materazzi also was effusive in praising the Argentine master. “Where did they create this alien? He’s not human.”
Even the Madrid-based Marca, which leaves no stones unturned in berating Barcelona, dropped its guard.
“Leo, hero again. Messi responded to those who doubted him with a brilliant performance. The most important game of the season came around and Leo Messi did not fail. He had a bad night at the San Siro ... Like the rest of his teammates, but last night, with the whole team fired up, Messi was decisive.”
Meanwhile, it seems Gerard Pique had a lucky charm waiting in the stands for his team’s stunning win. The centre-back posted this snap of himself with wife Shakira and their tiny one-month-old baby Milan.
The picture was taken after the game in an empty Camp Nou — a place that baby Milan will be seeing a lot more of. Just after he was born, mum Shakira said: “Just like his father, baby Milan became a member of FC Barcelona at birth.”
Although from the picture, it looks as if the excitement of Barca’s 4-0 drubbing of AC Milan wasn’t even enough to keep the tiny tot awake.
Gerard had issued a rallying cry to his fans before the big game, warning those who didn’t believe they could win to stay away. (agencies)