Barcelona saves Spanish pride with comfortable win over Stuttgart

18:54, March 18, 2010      

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Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a goal against VfB Stuttgart during their Champions League last 16, second leg soccer match at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona March 17, 2010. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

FC Barcelona qualified for the quarterfinals of the Champions League with a comfortable 4-0 win over Stuttgart on Wednesday night.

The win means Barcelona is the only representative of Spain's BBVA Primera Liga to qualify for the last eight of the competition.

Barcelona went into the game without key midfielder Xavi Hernandez, who had been diagnosed with a calf injury in the morning. Coach Pep Guardiola replaced him with Toure Yaya, while the fit again Seydou Keita was on the substitutes' bench.

Meanwhile Stuttgart included former Barcelona midfielder Alexander Hleb in their side. Hleb spent last season at Barcelona, but never won a regular place in the side.

The 1-1 draw from the first leg gave Barcelona the advantage of an away goal, but after Sevilla had gone out on Tuesday night after taking a similar result into the second leg the home side was taking nothing for granted.

The Catalans got off to a perfect start after just 13 minutes and Leo Messi was once again the scorer.

The Argentinean had scored a hat trick against Valencia at the weekend and he needed just 13 minutes to score against the Germans.

Messi collected the ball at the edge of the Stuttgart penalty area and beat Jens Lehmann with a low shot.

Pedro Rodriguez scored a second after 22 minutes with a simple finish following a flowing move started by Messi and continued by Toure.

That was the sign for Barcelona's players to start enjoying themselves and the ball hardly left the possession of the Catalan side.

Stuttgart has never won in the Camp Nou Stadium and it appeared as if their players knew that this was not to be their night.

Messi added a third goal after 59 minutes to confirm Barcelona's progress and with Stuttgart a beaten side all that was left was for the home players to show off their talent.

All that was left was for substitute Bojan to make it 4-0 in the 89th minute, just two minutes after coming on as a substitute.

The win takes Barcelona one step closer to the final, which will be played in Real Madrid' s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. With Madrid already out of the competition, their defender Marcelo said hours before the match that the best thing would be for their bitter rivals not to win the title.

Judging by Barcelona's performance on Wednesday, Real Madrid fans should start to worry.

Source: Xinhua
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