Barcelona cautious despite win

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> A 1-0 win on Tuesday's visit to AC Milan in the Champions League semifinal boosted Barcelona's hopes of second win in Europe's top club competition.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:40 IST
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It may be heading for one of the greatest seasons in its history but FC Barcelona is attempting to quell any premature celebrations. A 1-0 win on Tuesday's visit to AC Milan in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal boosted the Spanish champion's hopes of a second triumph in Europe's top club competition. On the domestic front, Barcelona holds an 11-point lead with five league games remaining and could retain its title this weekend if results go its way. A double triumph would emulate the success in 1992 when Barcelona, nicknamed "The Dream Team'', defeated Sampdoria 1-0 on Ronald Koeman's goal at Wembley and finished a point ahead of Real Madrid to win the league. Yet Frank Rijkaard, the Dutch coach who has played a key role in the Catalan club's revival over recent years, urged his players to maintain their concentration. "Now we have to keep working and not allow our minds to run away from us,'' Rijkaard was quoted as saying. Ronaldinho, whose floated forward pass provided Ludovic Giuly with the chance to lash Barcelona's 57th-minute goal against the Italians, echoed the call for caution. "We still have 90 minutes left to play and we have to stay humble and carry this on,'' Ronaldinho said. Barcelona, which beat English champion Chelsea and Portuguese champion Benfica in the previous rounds, needs only to draw with Milan in next Wednesday's return leg to secure its place in the May 17 final in Paris. "We need to be very prudent because this game is now history. But I'm convinced that if we play with the same intensity in the Camp Nou we'll get to Paris,'' club president Joan Laporta said. Triumph for Giuly Tuesday's game was a triumph for Giuly, the French forward who has found himself relegated to third-choice recently behind Henrik Larsson and Lionel Messi. But with Larsson and Messi injured, Giuly took full advantage of his opportunity to end Milan's 13-game unbeaten European run at its San Siro stadium. "Ronaldinho served me up with a magnificent pass. All I had to do was finish it off properly,'' Giuly said. Spain's sports newspapers, including those which are firmly pro-Real Madrid, hailed Barcelona's win and Ronaldinho's contribution in particular. (AP)