Thu, Apr 04, 2013 - Page 20 News List

UEFA Champions League: Injured Messi doubtful for PSG rematch

HIGH PRICE TO PAY:The Barca striker’s hamstring injury rules him out of a La Liga match, with reports saying he will be out of action for three weeks

Reuters AND AFP, MADRID and PARIS

Barcelona striker Lionel Messi walks off the pitch after being injured during his team’s Champions League quarter-final match against Paris Saint-Germain in Paris on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

Lionel Messi will miss this weekend’s La Liga match at home to RCD Mallorca with a right hamstring injury and will return to action depending on the speed of his recovery, Barcelona said after tests yesterday.

The World Player of the Year limped off at halftime in Barca’s 2-2 Champions League quarter-final first-leg draw away to Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday and is doubtful for the return leg at the Camp Nou on Wednesday next week.

Local media reports had said the Argentine striker would be out of action for about three weeks.

“I will return soon, thankfully it was not so serious.” Messi said on his Facebook page. “We are so sorry for Masche [Javier Mascherano], we offer him our full support and hope he returns as soon as possible.”

His Argentine teammate, defender Mascherano, was carried off on a stretcher in Paris and has been ruled out for six weeks with knee ligament damage.

Messi is Barca’s leading scorer, with eight goals in the Champions League and 43 in La Liga this season, and is an ever-present figure on the side.

He is rarely rested and has been extraordinarily resilient to injury. The last time he was sidelined with a muscle injury was in November 2009 when he was out of action for a week, Barca said.

Barcelona host relegation-threatened Mallorca on Saturday, holding a 13-point lead over Real Madrid with nine games left to play.

Messi’s absence will bring an end to his latest feat of netting goals in 19 successive league matches against every team in La Liga.

Barca are still on track for a sixth consecutive Champions League semi-final appearance despite the injuries and having conceded a last-gasp goal by Blaise Matuidi.

The 2009 and 2011 champions went in front seven minutes before halftime when Dani Alves produced an exquisite pass with the outside of his right boot straight into the path of Messi, who drove the ball in with his left foot from an acute angle.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave PSG a lifeline when he equalized, even though he looked offside before a header from Thiago Silva rebounded to the Swedish striker off the post in the 79th minute.

Xavi calmly restored title favorites Barca’s advantage from the penalty spot after goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu rushed off his line in the 89th minute and brought down Alexis Sanchez.

Matuidi then struck with the last kick of the game when his long-range shot eluded the outstretched fingers of keeper ’Victor Valdes.

“The referee [German Wolfgang Stark] made some questionable calls,” Barca assistant manager Jordi Roura told reporters after the quarter-final tie. “It’s a good result, but it comes at a high price.”

David Beckham became the first British player to appear for four different clubs in the Champions League when he was named in PSG’s starting lineup.

The former England captain did well before being taken off midway through the second half.

“I think we deserved a draw tonight,” Beckham said. “There’s no reason why we can’t go there and get a result.”

PSG, unbeaten at home in all competitions since Nov. 17, went for Barca’s throat in the opening stages, but were not rewarded for their efforts.

Ancelotti said he could not fault his team’s performance, but bemoaned Starks’ decision to award the visitors a late penalty and admitted that the result leaves his team with a lot to do in the return.

“We played very well in the first half, but the two goals we conceded were gifts. The first goal was a gift to Messi on the edge of the box and the second was a gift by the referee,” he said.

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