Barcelona set up a possible semi-final rematch with Chelsea after becoming the first team to reach the last four of the Champions League five seasons running. And, not for the first time this season, it was Lionel Messi who confirmed their passage into the last four with two first-half penalties.
His two goals on the night meant he has now equalled José Atalfini’s record from the 1962-63 season for Milan with 14 goals in one European Cup campaign, but referee Bjorn Kuipers decision to award him the second spot-kick left Milan’s players furious.
"You see Mourinho’s antics whenever he comes here," said an incensed Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the game. "Now we understand that more. They shouldn’t need to cheat."
The Milan striker’s complaints were upheld by his coach Massimiliano Allegri, who said: "The second penalty was awarded too easily to Barcelona."
Pep Guardiola, the Barcelona coach, refused to be drawn, however. "They were both penalties," he said. "They were both given by the referee and we should accept that."
Guardiola preferred to concentrate on what he called the "great achievement" of reaching five straight Champions League semi-finals. But he refused to accept that Chelsea are the favourites to overcome Benfica tonight, adding: "It’s too early to talk about playing Chelsea. First they have to get past Benfica. Both teams are very experienced. We will try to be at our best when we face them. I am just proud of my players."