Yaya Touré sent FC Barcelona through to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals as the Spanish side overcame initial nerves before easing to a 2-0 aggregate victory over FC Schalke 04.
Yaya Touré struck his first goal in the competition two minutes before half-time, coolly slotting in after opening-leg scorer Bojan Krkić had wreaked havoc in the visitors' defence. It calmed nerves that had been frayed by a positive opening by Schalke, and Frank Rijkaard's men may have to improve if the sole non-Premier League survivors are to overcome in-form Manchester United FC in the last four.
Schalke began at Camp Nou as they had finished in Gelsenkirchen, spurning several clear-cut chances in a vibrant first 20 minutes. Gerald Asamoah was all urgent running and neat flicks, Jermaine Jones's passes carried precision and Kevin Kuranyi looked a constant threat. The hosts had early warning after seven minutes when Fabian Ernst fed Asamoah and the winger back-heeled the ball into Halil Altıntop's path. The Schalke No19 hit a fizzing shot that Víctor Valdés got his body behind, only for the ball to spin back goalwards and it took a desperate stretch from the keeper to paw it wide.
Human error, rather than Lady Luck, was to blame when Asamoah missed a free header from Jones's cross, while Kuranyi could not turn it in at the back post despite a committed lunge. These were nervous moments for Barcelona who soon responded to the crowd's urgent demand for action. Even between Schalke's best two opportunities, it fell to Manuel Neuer to atone for his first-leg mistake with a brilliant block. Andrés Iniesta slid a pinpoint pass for Xavi Hernández to beat the offside trap, but one on one with Neuer, the midfielder came off second best as the goalkeeper produced a marvellous reaction save.
In the first leg it had been Bojan who made the difference with his maiden UEFA Champions League goal and just before half-time he changed the complexion of the game again. Sprinting down the right, his centre caused chaos in Schalke's penalty area. Marcelo Bordon skied his clearance and Mladen Krstajić's subsequent header off the goalline only fell as far as Touré, who swept the ball into the unguarded net. Barça were reborn. The second half started with another mazy Bojan run, although Thierry Henry wasted his delivery, firing over from five metres.
Neuer made another super stop to keep out Iniesta's raking drive, but then came a blow for the Blaugrana: Carles Puyol was booked for a foul on Asamoah and will miss the first leg against United here. The setback may have pleased Sir Alex Ferguson's brother, present at Camp Nou, yet it failed to sully the home fans' enjoyment as they roared the waspish Bojan on as the youngster harried the Schalke back line. The Bundesliga side's own attacking force was extinguished and they will now focus on a return to the UEFA Champions League next season. For Barcelona, next up is United.
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