Toure seals Barca passage

First-half winner gives Spanish giants unconvincing victory

A 43rd-minute strike by Yaya Toure gave Barcelona an unconvincing 1-0 win over Schalke and sealed their passage into the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

Barca were firm favourites at the Nou Camp having won the first leg 1-0 in Germany, but the visitors gave them a real scare as they went close to levelling the tie on numerous occasions during the opening half-hour.

Toure pounced just before the break to give Barca an undeserved lead and that proved to be enough for the Spanish giants as Schalke offered little resistance in the second half.

Barca will now face Manchester United for a place in the final, with the first leg to be played at Camp Nou on Wednesday, April 23.

Barca started brightly and could have gone ahead after just two minutes, when Samuel Eto'o fed Bojan Krkic in the area, but the youngster miscontrolled his effort and Xavi volleyed over the bar following a series of rebounds.

But Schalke - in the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time in their history - were not intimidated by the occasion or the hostile Camp Nou atmosphere.

Gerald Asamoah drove wide from outside the box after four minutes and Halil Altintop saw his dipping effort scrambled away by Victor Valdes at the second attempt in the visitors' next attack.

At the other end, Andres Iniesta picked out Xavi with a perfectly-weighted through-ball after 11 minutes, but the latter's low drive was brilliantly pushed

wide by Schalke keeper Manuel Neuer.

Schalke should have gone ahead after 21 minutes, when Kevin Kuranyi shot wide from point-blank range at the far post.

The hosts came close themselves through a well-worked free-kick after 25 minutes, but Bojan shot straight at Neuer from just inside the area.


Schalke looked to be holding firm until Toure put the home side ahead with a scrappy strike two minutes before the break.

The Ivory Coast midfielder released Bojan on the right, but the youngster's cross was headed high into the air by Schalke defender Marcelo Bordon.

When it came back down, Mladen Krstajic headed off the line, but the ball fell to Toure, who scuffed his shot underneath Neuer and into the net from six yards out to give Barcelona a lead they barely deserved.

Soon after the restart Bojan squared neatly for the unmarked Henry after 49 minutes, but the former Arsenal striker curled a side-footed shot inches over the bar.

Barcelona then came close again a minute later, when Iniesta's long-range drive was pushed just past the post by Neuer.

Substitute Giovani Dos Santos fired a rasping drive at Neuer after 78 minutes. Henry should then have set up the unmarked Eto'o after 81 minutes and also failed to find Giovani when the Mexican stood alone at the far post in the hosts' next foray forward.

Schalke too had their moments late on, but were unable to recreate the excellent form they showed in the first period and Barcelona held on comfortably.

Captain Carles Puyol will miss that match after picking up a second-half booking for a foul on Asamoah.

Barcelona Team Statistics FC Schalke 04
1 Goals 0
1 1st Half Goals 0
7 Shots on Target 2
7 Shots off Target 14
5 Blocked Shots 2
7 Corners 8
14 Fouls 21
4 Offsides 1
1 Yellow Cards 2
0 Red Cards 0
79.4 Passing Success 82.2
26 Tackles 21
69.2 Tackles Success 90.5
51.8 Possession 48.2
47.1 Territorial Advantage 52.9