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Lionel Messi's appearance was crucial says David Villa

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Updated 11 Apr 2013 07:17:18

Lionel Messi's appearance was crucial says David Villa

David Villa declared that Lionel Messi's presence alone in the second half helped Barcelona edge past Paris St Germain on away goals and qualify for the semi-finals of the Champions League.

The Catalans were trailing at the Nou Camp due to Javier Pastore's opener and brought on their Argentinian talisman with 28 minutes remaining. Although Messi could not add to his tally of eight Champions League goals, he added a spark to Barcelona's attack and also created the danger which lead to Pedro equalising on 70 minutes to claim a 3-3 aggregate draw.

"Messi is the best player in the world and he changed the game just by being on the pitch," Villa told television channel Canal Plus after the game. "We have to congratulate him for his show of commitment to the team and to football."

The Asturian forward, who began the match in attack alongside Cesc Fabregas and Pedro while Messi was left on the bench after suffering a hamstring injury in last week's match at the Parc de Princes added: "It is thanks to him, and everyone else, that we have qualified."

Villa said that PSG had made his side work for the draw, and admitted Barca had been far from their best.

"We are delighted to qualify after suffering so much. They caused us a lot of problems, and they did a lot of damage with their counter-attacks," he said.

"We gave the ball away a lot, which we don't normally do, we didn't play well. We knew that they [PSG] were strong on the counter-attack but they still made it difficult for us. However, we have qualified, and that's what's important."

Barca assistant coach Jordi Roura agreed with Villa on Messi's impact on the game, and admitted it was always their plan to bring him on if the game was not going to plan.

"We had agreed that he would play from the moment things started to go wrong for us, and that moment arrived. He came onto the pitch and once again participated in a goal," he said.

"He proved his competitive edge, he's an irreplaceable player."


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