[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] It wasn't as dramatic as Willis Reed starting Game 7 of the 1970 NBA finals and hitting the
first two shots of the game for the Knicks on one leg. Or pinch-hitter Kirk Gibson hitting a grand slam and limping around the bases on one leg to win Game 1 of
the 1988 World Series for the Dodgers. But what Lionel Messi did for Barcelona on Wednesday night was pretty close.
With Barca trailing Paris St. Germain 1-0 in the second half of the second leg of their UEFA Champions League series, the injured Messi came off the bench and helped set up the tying goal by Pedro that evened the score at 1-1 and gave Barca a dramatic series victory.
Messi injured his hamstring late in the first half of the first leg in Paris and was limping slightly for his 29-minute stint at the Camp Nou.
On one of his few patented runs at defenders, but his pinpoint pass found David Villa, who laid the ball for Pedro to fire past PSG goalie Salvatore Sirigu.
"He was the catalyst," said Pedro. "We changed after he came on and we have to thank him for that."
It looked like Messi would remain on the bench throughout the game, but PSG went ahead in the 50th minute when Zlatan Ibrahimovic teamed up with Javier Pastore to spring the Argentine for the game's first goal.
Without Messi, Barca looked incapable of implementing the short passing game that is its hallmark but after his entrance in the 62nd minute, all that changed.
Within nine minutes, Barca was even on the night and on aggregate -- and ahead thanks to its two away goals at the Parc des Prince, where the teams tied, 2-2.
Messi spent the rest of the game in his usual position in the middle of the Barca attack, but his mere presence was enough to make the PSG defenders concentrate on him, allowing the space his teammates needed to hold the ball and gain control of the game.
"It doesn't matter if he's a little bit injured," said Barca teammate Gerard Pique, "he can change everything."
Barcelona-Paris SG Highlights:
JUVENTUS-BAYERN MUNICH. Second-half goals from Mario Mandzukic and Claudio Pizarro gave Bayern Munich its second 2-0 win over Juventus and move into the Champions League semifinals.
The draw for the semifinals will be held Friday.
Juventus-Bayern Munich Highlights: