Pep Guardiola
Barcelona's coach Guardiola gestures to his player during their Spanish first division soccer match against Atletico Madrid in Madrid Reuters

Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola has come out in effusive praise of his players, after the Catalans dominated their second leg Champions League quarter-final game against Italians AC Milan.

The defending Spanish and European champions won 3-1 on the night (and on aggregate; the first leg at the San Siro finished goalless), thanks to two Lionel Messi penalties and an Andres Iniesta strike, to book their place in the tournament's semi-final stage for the fifth consecutive season.

"We have won two Champions Leagues in the last three years and we have reached the semi-finals five times in a row... These players are awesome because they have shown the world the way they have to compete. We are so glad to be there and I am so happy to be their coach," Guardiola was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.

However, the win was not without its share of controversy, something which has become a Barcelona trademark in European competitions, over recent years. This time around, the award of two penalties, both in the first half, to the Spanish side led Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and coach Massimiliano Allegri to make critical remarks about favouritism.

Allegri was perhaps more graceful than his star striker, who labelled the incident as "disgusting". The Italians' coach contended himself with saying the penalties were "debatable" and "it is never easy to play against Barca".

Barcelona, meanwhile, will be watching Wednesday night's game between Chelsea and Benfica with interest, for they will play the winner of that tie in the next round. Chelsea have a 1-0 lead from the first leg in Portugal.

Guardiola, in typical fashion though, has refused to speculate on the possibility of a clash with Chelsea, insisting that either club would be difficult opposition.

"Whenever you are in the semi-finals, whether it is Chelsea or Benfica, it will be a difficult game," he said, adding, "I don't think we are the favourites, Bayern Munich are there, Real Madrid are there."

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