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Apr 11, 2013

Barca: Lionel Messi injury no worse

Barcelona medical staff said Lionel Messi did not suffer any worsening of his ailing hamstring during Wednesday's Champions League 1-1 quarterfinal draw vs. Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi came off the bench to help Barcelona fight back to reach the Champions League semifinals for a sixth year in a row, advancing on the away goals rule after its 2-2 draw in Paris last week.

The club announced on its website Wednesday morning that Messi "will keep on his established recuperative therapy and his evolution will determine his availability for future matches."

Messi, who had injured his hamstring a week earlier, was only cleared to play an hour before kickoff. He went on in the 62nd minute with his team losing 1-0 after Javier Pastore's opener.

It took him nine minutes to start the decisive move that Pedro Rodriguez finished off to keep Barcelona in the hunt for its fourth Champions League title in eight seasons.

Messi has dominated many a match for Barcelona on its way to trophy success in recent seasons, but his importance and leadership for the Catalan club was rarely more evident than on Wednesday night.

"Messi is a very important player and he put in a great effort," Pedro said. "He was the catalyst. We changed after he came on and we have to thank him for that."

Barcelona was a different team with Messi -- though he was probably not at full strength -- compared to the lackluster side that PSG toyed with while the Argentina international watched from the dugout.

"Leo is an extraordinary player. We knew that we had the option of playing him if the score wasn't favorable," Barcelona assistant coach Jordi Roura said. "Leo knows when to push it and when to put the brakes on. Not being 100 percent, he still has the same attitude and motivation to win."

David Villa said that Messi's presence alone in the second half helped Barcelona.

"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. It is thanks to him, and everyone else, that we have qualified," added the Asturian forward.

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."

Barca assistant coach Jordi Roura said it was always Barca's plan to bring Messi 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."

The assistant coach also celebrated the club reaching the semifinals of the competition for the sixth consecutive season.

"It's a huge milestone, it's extraordinary," he said. "The fans should be very proud.

"The game was very difficult but these players are very special. They are made of special stuff, and you have to congratulate them."

Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti expressed his disappointment after seeing his side go out of the competition by such a slim margin.

"We did everything possible to win, we played well and we came close," he said. "It was a marvellous night but it would have been fantastic to have made it to the semifinals."

Information from Press Association was used in this report.

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