Javier Mascherano cut a frustrated figure after seeing his FC Barcelona side squander numerous chances to score an away goal that would have changed the complexion of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final against AC Milan. The Argentinian international nonetheless remains confident of putting things right in the 3 April return, telling UEFA.com: "We just have to win at home and we'll be through to the semi-finals."
Aside from a third-minute scare when an unmarked Robinho sent his close-range volley over the bar, and another near miss on 20 minutes when Zlatan Ibrahimović was denied by Víctor Valdés, Barcelona dominated the first leg at San Siro, with Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernández at their inspirational best. Yet, for all their possession, the European champions had to settle for a goalless draw as they could find no way past a Rossoneri rearguard in resilient mood.
"I think we played well," said former midfielder Mascherano, who has made seven UEFA Champions League appearances this term as a converted centre-back. "
We had the clearer chances to score, we controlled the game, but we didn't manage to win. Maybe the first ten to 15 minutes were theirs but then we had the best of it for the rest of the game. We really wanted to score here, we wanted to win, but we were unable to. It's not a bad result, though, we just have to win at home and we'll be through to the semi-finals."
With the clubs' two group stage encounters earlier in the campaign having yielded nine goals, this was expected to be another high-scoring affair; however, it proved much cagier than that, perhaps because each side is now so familiar with the other's game.
"We know each other very well now," said the 27-year-old Mascherano. "Both teams played very carefully and tried to make the breakthrough, but now we must look forward to next week. Obviously with the Barcelona supporters behind us we will try everything to get through to the next round."
Mascherano is right to feel bullish about his team booking a fifth successive semi-final next Tuesday given the Azulgrana have not lost at home all season. Even so, the tie is intriguingly poised as a score draw, which Milan managed at Camp Nou on matchday one, would take Massimiliano Allegri's charges through at Barça's expense.
"We are not that disappointed because we played very well, but when you have six or seven chances and you don't take them it's difficult to accept. Yet that's football, and we have to look forward. We know how experienced they are, they have a lot of clever players, so I think the next game will be the same because they defend so well. But we have a lot of players in attack that can put on a good show, score goals and win us the match."
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.