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David Villa: Lionel Messi introduction saved Barcelona from Champions League exit

Updated: Thursday, 11 Apr 2013 13:09 | Comments

Lionel Messi was on hand to set up Barcelona's equaliser
Lionel Messi was on hand to set up Barcelona's equaliser

David Villa declared that Leo Messi's presence alone in the second half helped Barcelona edge past Paris Saint-Germain on away goals and qualify for the semi-finals of the Champions League.

The Catalans were trailing Carlo Ancelotti's side at the Nou Camp due to Javier Pastore's opener and brought on their Argentinian talisman with 28 minutes remaining.

Although Messi could not add to his tally of eight Champions League goals, he added a spark to Barcelona's attack, which had failed to muster a shot on target before he came onto the pitch.

He also created the danger which lead to Pedro equalising on 70 minutes, which sent Barca to the last four of the tournament on away goals after drawing the first leg in Paris 2-2.

"Messi is the best player in the world and he changed the game just by being on the pitch," Villa told television channel Canal Plus after the game.

"We have to congratulate him for his show of commitment to the team and to football. It is thanks to him, and everyone else, that we have qualified," added the Asturian forward, who began the match in attack alongside Cesc Fabregas and Pedro while Messi was left on the bench after suffering a hamstring injury in last week's match at the Parc de Princes. 

Barcelona subsequently confirmed that Messi suffered no further damage to his hamstring after his substitute appearance last night.

"We have to congratulate him for his show of commitment to the team and to football" - David Villa

Villa said that PSG had made his side work for the draw, and admitted Barca had been far from their best.

"We are delighted to qualify after suffering so much. They caused us a lot of problems, and they did a lot of damage with their counter-attacks," he said.

"We gave the ball away a lot, which we don't normally do, we didn't play well. We knew that they [PSG] were strong on the counter-attack but they still made it difficult for us.

"However, we have qualified, and that's what's important."

Barca assistant coach Jordi Roura agreed with Villa on Messi's impact on the game, and admitted it was always their plan to bring him on if the game was not going to plan.

"We had agreed that he would play from the moment things started to go wrong for us, and that moment arrived. He came onto the pitch and once again participated in a goal," he said.

"He proved his competitive edge, he's an irreplaceable player."

The assistant coach also celebrated the club reaching the semi-finals of the competition for the sixth consecutive season.

"It's a huge milestone, it's extraordinary," he said. "The fans should be very proud.

"The game was very difficult but these players are very special. They are made of special stuff, and you have to congratulate them."

Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti expressed his disappointment after seeing his side go out of the competition by such a slim margin.

"We did everything possible to win, we played well and we came close," he said. "It was a marvellous night but it would have been fantastic to have made it to the semi-finals."

The Italian also declared that his side, making their first appearance in the Champions League for eight seasons, could be proud of their achievements in the tournament and would build on the experience in the future.

He said: "This game will be useful for us in the coming seasons. We lacked a bit of experience because some of our players have only just discovered the Champions League.

"Only time will allow us to gain the experience that will help us reach the semi-finals, and that's our aim for next year.

"We leave the competition playing 10 matches and losing just once. We've done a good job and we regret nothing." 

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