Barca in final after Nou Camp draw

Following a completely one-sided first half in which Madrid keeper

Iker Casillas kept his side in the game, Pedro gave Pep Guardiola’s

team the lead nine minutes into the second period. Marcelo soon hit

back for a vastly-improved Madrid 10 minutes later, but the

Catalans never looked in too much trouble and will face Manchester

United or Schalke in the final later this month, which sees them

return to the scene of their first European Cup triumph, in 1992.

Madrid, two goals down from last Wednesday’s bad-tempered first leg

match at the Santiago Bernabeu, were missing suspended pair Pepe

and Sergio Ramos. Coach Jose Mourinho, also banned, named an

attacking line-up, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Angel di Maria and

Gonzalo Higuain all in the side. But after a solid start, which saw

Ronaldo make some promising attacking runs, Barca began to

dominate. Ricardo Carvalho, who missed the first match through

suspension, cut out a dangerous ball from Lionel Messi after 20

minutes and moments later, Casillas saved comfortably from Sergio

Busquets, who was allowed a free header by the Madrid defence.

Casillas then made a double save to deny Messi and must have been

relieved when the Argentina forward fired wide just a minute later.

The Spain goalkeeper then did well to keep out Messi’s low drive,

but produced an even better save to keep out David Villa’s curling

effort, which was heading for the far corner. Madrid were hardly

getting a sniff and things could have been worse a minute before

time, when Carvalho – already booked – hacked down Messi. The

referee waved play on, much to the annoyance of the Nou Camp crowd,

in what was the last real action of the first period. Madrid

improved after the break, but Barca took the lead just as the

visitors had looked to be making some headway. The goal was all

about Andres Iniesta, who played a fabulous defence-splitting ball

through to Pedro for a clinical low finish from the Tenerife-born

forward into Casillas’ bottom right corner. Karanka then sent on

Emmanuel Adebayor and Mesut Ozil for Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain as

Madrid sought a more direct approach. Despite the goal, effectively

little had changed: Madrid needed three to go through. It looked an

impossible task, but some hope was restored as Marcelo levelled the

scores on the night, firing home from close range after Di Maria

had hit the post and then squared the rebound for his

better-positioned team-mate. Adebayor threw his weight around up

front after that and was arguably lucky to only pick up a late

booking, but the Togo striker was left with an unenviable task as

he fed off scraps against a Barca side happy to keep possession and

run down the clock. There was a huge cheer just before the end as

Eric Abidal came on to make his first appearance since returning

from an operation to remove a tumour from his liver in March. But

there was an even bigger roar a couple of minutes later as the

referee blew the final whistle to confirm Barca as Champions League

finalists for the third time in six years. The Catalans will now

look for a repeat of their 1992 triumph and a fourth European Cup

success in total as they return to Wembley on May 28.