Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng were brought down to earth as Barcelona thrashed AC Milan 4-0 to qualify for the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League.
The Ghanaian duo combined well to hand the Rossoneri what was believed to be a comfortable 2-0 lead going into the second leg game at the Cam Nou on Tuesday.
However a brace by Lionel Messi and a goal each from David Villa and Jordi Alba rendered all of Milan’s hardwork in the first leg meaningless in the end.
Manager Massimiliano Allegri has been heavily criticized for the crushing defeat following his decision to start his influential midfielder, Muntari from the bench in preference to the young and inexperienced M’baye Niang.
The players could also share some responsibility as some glorious opportunities were spurned to hand full advantage to the Spanish giants.
The Rossoneri failed to keep their acts together in the opening minutes to give away a goal – a sublime finish from the four-time and reigning World Player of the Year after just five minutes.
Milan were presented a golden opportunity to score on the counter from a Barcelona corner, but Niang went clear and his angled drive beat Valdes only to thump against the base of the far post.
Less than 120 seconds later, Barcelona doubled their lead with Messi’s second of the game.
Iniesta robbed Massimo Ambrosini in the final third and set up Messi, who fired his daisy-cutter between Mexes’ legs to beat Abbiati.
The tie was now all even on aggregate. After the restart Messi went on a long run, but the finish was comfortable for Abbiati. Boateng volleyed a Niang corner off target, but Barcelona went 3-0 up.
Constant’s sliding tackle failed to intercept a Xavi pass and David Villa had all the time and space to pick his spot, curling across Abbiati into the far post.
Max Allegri introduced Sulley Muntari and Robinho for Ambrosini and Niang. Messi flashed a chest and volley over the bar.
Milan had to go all-out in the final 15 minutes and threw on Barcelona-owned Bojan Krkic for Flamini. The substitutes combined, as Bojan dribbled past Gerard Pique down the left to roll in for Robinho, whose shot was charged down from point-blank range by Jordi Alba.
The visitors started to pin Barca back into their own half during the last stages, but could not find a way through. Instead, they dreadfully wasted a free kick and allowed the counter-attack as Jordi Alba was unmarked to nutmeg Abbiati from an Alexis Sanchez pass.