Lionel Messi lit up an ill-tempered Champions League semifinal with two goals in the last 15 minutes to give Barcelona a 2-0 home win over 10-man Real Madrid.
Barcelona dominated throughout but only managed to break through after Pepe was red-carded in the 61st minute at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Madrid coach Jose Mourinho was sent off for protesting the decision, which left Madrid playing with 10 men against Barcelona for the fourth consecutive game.
“If I say to (the referee) and to UEFA what I think and feel, my career ends today,” Mourinho said.
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Messi sent substitute Ibrahim Afellay’s cross through the legs of goalkeeper Iker Casillas to open the scoring in the 76th minute. With three minutes to play, the elusive Argentine forward brilliantly moved past three defenders before slipping the ball past Casillas for his 52nd goal of the season, and 11th in the Champions League.
“A team that has nine European Cups never gives up on a series, I’m convinced of that,” Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. “We played a very good game. We controlled their counterattacks, their aerial game, which is very dangerous.”
It was Barcelona’s first win in three games between the bitter rivals in 12 days after a 1-1 league draw and a 1-0 extra-time Copa del Rey final defeat.
Madrid’s defense in Tuesday’s return leg will be short-handed with Pepe and Sergio Ramos both suspended. Ramos got a yellow card for a foul on Messi in the 53rd.
Mourinho said the second leg in Barcelona is “mission impossible” as he continued to bemoan his side’s treatment by the referee.
“We’ll go there with pride, without Pepe, who did nothing, without Ramos, who did nothing, and the coach who can’t be on the bench,” he said. “If we score a goal, they’ll kill us again. It’s a result that is impossible.
“Why in a game that was equal did he do what he did? But he won’t answer, he’ll go home because he doesn’t have to answer to anyone.”
Colorado Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan apologized for the tackle on Steve Zakuani that broke the Seattle Sounders midfielder’s leg and likely ended his season.
Mullan released a statement saying he regrets that Zakuani was injured Saturday and is “deeply sorry to Steve and all those impacted by his injury.”
News of a penalty for Mullan was expected Wednesday, but MLS delayed its weekly announcement. No word on when the league will announce Mullan’s penalty.
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