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Barcelona into semis after 1-1 draw at Bayern

BARCELONA did enough to book its spot in the Champions League semifinals with a 1-1 draw at Bayern Munich in yesterday's quarterfinal return leg.

Franck Ribery put Bayern ahead in the 47th minute, while Seydou Keita equalized in the 73rd as Barcelona eased to a 5-1 victory on aggregate and a semifinal place against Chelsea. The Spanish club will play the first leg at home on April 28 and face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on May 6.

Barcelona, winner of the 1992 European Cup and the Champions League in 2006, enjoyed a safe passage to the last four after a convincing 4-0 first leg win at home last week.

"We are very happy to be back in the semifinals. We still have a lot of time before we have to think about Chelsea but they are a great team. It would not have been an easier game if we had faced Liverpool," said Barcelona's assistant coach Tito Vilanova.

Vilanova was in charge for the game as head coach Pep Guardiola had been banned following an outburst from the first leg.

"We played really well in defense and did a good job keeping Ribery and (Luca) Toni in check. We have not reached our goals yet. We have to continue working," Vilanova said.

In front of a sold-out crowd of 66,000 at Munich's Allianz Arena, Bayern was by far the more aggressive side early on, knowing it needed a quick goal after the embarrassment in Barcelona.

The Germans went close in the sixth minute, with Jose Ernesto Sosa winning a ball in the Barcelona defense and sending a dangerous cross toward Luca Toni. However, the Italian failed to get his head to the ball.

Toni had the ball in Barcelona's net just a minute later but the goal was disallowed for offside. Bayern continued to push forward and Ribery shot just over the top in the 14th minute.

"We reacted well to the defeat in Barcelona," Bayern coach Juergen Klinsmann said. "If we had scored early and if we had led 2-0, who knows what would have happened. Maybe they would have lost some confidence. We went out against the best team in the world at the moment."

Though Bayern controlled the game for the first 25 minutes, Barcelona began to turn the tables as it looked for a way through the Bayern defense.

Bayern had one more chance just before halftime, when Toni's left-foot shot from 13 yards (meters) went just wide left.

Bayern finally grabbed the lead two minutes after the break when Ze Roberto put Ribery through in the area. The Frenchman did a neat dummy and beat Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes with a rising shot.

Bayern's defense was effective in shutting down Barca star Lionel Messi, who scored twice in the first leg, and was further helped by striker Thierry Henry missing the return match with a cold.

But Barcelona responded quickly to conceding the goal and Bayern defender Lucio twice blocked threats in the box.

The Spaniards equalized with 17 minutes left, silencing the Munich crowd. Some fine passing in the area ended with Xavi Hernandez laying the ball on for Keita, who blasted past Bayern 'keeper Hans-Joerg Butt from 16 yards (meters).


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