Barcelona edged a pulsating affair at San Siro to defeat AC Milan 3-2 in the Champions League and guarantee top spot in Group H, with Xavi grabbing the winner.
The Catalan club took the lead in the 14th minute when Mark van Bommel put the ball past his own goalkeeper before Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalised seven minutes later.
Lionel Messi’s penalty gave the visitors the lead at the break yet a wonderful goal from Kevin-Prince Boateng on 54 minutes levelled the scoring once again. However, Xavi popped up to score what proved to be the winning goal in the 63rd minute.
Barcelona now sit at the top of the group on 13 points with Milan five points behind last season’s Champions League winners, with both teams having one game each left to play.
After an uneventful opening period, Barcelona took the lead on 14 minutes with the first real attack of the game. Messi’s clever ball found Seydou Keita in space inside the box, before the Malian played a low cross which was bundled into his own net by Van Bommel, following a touch from Xavi.
Milan should have equalised in the 19th minute, yet Robinho was guilty of a shocking miss. Ibrahimovic’s cross into the box was drilled into the direction of the unmarked Brazilian forward by Boateng, who smashed the ball over the crossbar from close range.
However, the home team were level two minutes later after taking advantage of some slack Barcelona defending. Clarence Seedorf’s clever ball bypassed the visitor’s defence asIbrahimovic was allowed to slot home from 10 yards out.
Pep Guardiola’s men had a glorious chance to re-take the lead on 23 minutes yet it was Messi’s turn to miss a glaring opportunity. Cesc Fabregas did well to work some space on the right side of the penalty area, before sliding the ball to the Argentine, who struck the top of the bar from three yards out.
Barcelona were awarded a penalty on the half hour mark when Alberto Aquilani was guilty of pulling down Messi in the box.
The forward stepped up to put the ball in the far corner beyond the outstretched hand of Christian Abbiati – the second time Messi had found the back of the net from the spot in a minute after the referee ordered a re-take.
The away team made the brighter start in the second period yet Milan found themselves level again on 54 minutes through a moment of brilliance from Boateng.
The Ghanaian international seized on a loose ball on the edge of the box before sending Eric Abidal the wrong way with a clever touch using his heel. Faced one-on-one with Victor Valdes, the midfielder slammed the ball low past the goalkeeper from 12 yards out.
For the third time in the game, Guardiola’s side were back in front on 63 minutes with another beautifully taken goal. Fabregas and Messi linked up well before the Argentine slid a precise through pass to Xavi, who calmly placed the ball into the bottom corner in what proved to be the winning goal of the game.
Both sides end their respective group stage campaigns on December 6 when Barcelona entertain BATE Borisov while Milan travel to Viktoria Plzen.