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May 1, 2013

Messi watches Barca ousted from bench

Barcelona star Lionel Messi watched from the sideline as Bayern Munich completed its dismantling of the Spanish side with a 3-0 win on Wednesday, lining up the first all-German Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund.

With its all-time leading scorer out after he aggravated a right hamstring injury, Barcelona failed to seriously threaten Bayern's goal -- much less an epic comeback after its 4-0 first-leg defeat.

Messi, nursing a hamstring injury, failed to make much of an impact in the first leg thrashing last week. Instead, he watched as Bayern tore through Barcelona's defense a day before Borussia Dortmund beat Real Madrid 4-1 in the other semifinal series.

The four-time reigning world player of the year scored in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Athletic Bilbao after appearing as a second-half substitute but Barca coach Tito Vilanova decided not to risk him from the outset Wednesday.

Instead, Vilanova gave a start to Spain international David Villa, who was an unused substitute against Athletic.

Besides Messi, Barcelona was also without four other first-choice players. But the glaring truth is that even with several Spanish internationals on the pitch Bayern, was once again the better side.

Barcelona's Gerard Pique described it as one of his club's "worst nights," adding that even Messi wouldn't have made a difference.

"It isn't pleasant living through a situation like this," Pique said. "In the first half, we really tried but when they scored the first we were left feeling down. We have to congratulate Bayern who were superior.

"The fact that Lionel Messi, the best player in the world, did not play was a factor -- but I do not think his participation tonight would have changed things all that much."

Information from Press Association and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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