|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Bojan strike gives Barcelona win over Schalke
April 02, 2008 06:59 IST
Barcelona struck early through teenager Bojan Krkic and survived a series of late scares to claim a 1-0 win over Schalke 04 in their Champions League quarter-final first leg on Tuesday.
Barcelona, bidding for a second Champions League title in three seasons, took the lead when Thierry Henry's [Images] cross from the left set up the 17-year-old Bojan to divert the ball into the roof of the net.
The Catalans kept control in the first half but one goal seemed to be the extent of their ambition and they were almost made to pay.
Fabian Ernst and Halil Altintop saw shots slip just wide with the keeper beaten midway through the second half and Soren Larsen put a free header past the post as the Germans hurled players forward.
Marcelo Bordon brought a fingertip save from Victor Valdes in the dying seconds and Barcelona held on to take a valuable lead into the second leg at the Nou Camp on April 9.
The prize is a semi-final against Manchester United [Images] or AS Roma.
"If you saw the second half we had plenty of chances so you can't say that there is no point in going to Barcelona," Schalke coach Mirko Slomka said at a news conference. "We know it will be difficult but we're going to give it a shot."
Coach Frank Rijkaard, angry after his team had thrown away a 2-0 lead in losing 3-2 against Real Betis at the weekend, had asked his players to be patient and keep possession further forward.
They did just that in the first half and almost went ahead in the eighth minute when Xavi's astute pass set Iniesta running on goal, before Schalke keeper Manuel Neuer rushed out to block.
Four minutes later Barcelona picked the lock again.
This time it was Iniesta who produced a perfectly angled pass with the outside of his foot to put Henry in behind the defender on the left.
The Frenchman's shot was blocked at the near post but he reacted first to the rebound and put the ball back again across the face of goal for Bojan to pounce.
Schalke, playing in the quarter-finals of the European Cup for the first time since the 1958-59 season, were clearly second best and Barcelona's dominance, along with the closed roof, made for a quite atmosphere.
The Germans raised the temperature immediately in the second half with a series of shots before the late flurry almost brought them reward.
"It's a good result and you have to congratulate the team for their hard work," said Rijkaard. "In the second half we just got sucked into their aerial game a bit."
UEFA Champions League 2007-08: The Complete Coverage