I’ve been an award writing sports journalist for a while, and I’ve watched alot of sport…from tiddlywinks to women mud wresting in Alabama. But I have never seen…and probably will never see again, what I saw when Barcelona played Bayer Leverkusen.
Lionel Messi becomes the first player in UEFA Champions League history to score five goals in a game as Barcelona demolish Bayer Leverkusen 7-1 at Camp Nou for a 10-2 aggregate round-of-16 win.
It was so one sided, it was just ridiculous. Messi, with seemingly little effort, scored the most sublime goals. The team are such a team that it’s just a joy to watch.
The World Player of the Year turned in a virtuoso display, finding the net twice before the break and three times in the second half with substitute Cristian Tello bagging a brace in-between the Argentine’s individual brilliance.
The Bundesliga side scored a late consolation through Karim Bellarabi’s stunning long-range strike, but the night belonged to the 24-year-old from Rosario.
Leverkusen had travelled to Catalonia in confident mood after winning their third straight Bundesliga game at the weekend.
A 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich has boosted the club’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League again next season, but despite being heavy underdogs to progress to the last eight, they had not fully given up on remaining in the competition a little longer this year.
But the game was up as early as the 25th minute as Xavi teamed up with Messi delightfully, the midfielder chipping an inch-perfect ball over the halfway line which Messi collected before producing a cheeky lob over the goalkeeper’s left shoulder.
Messi then scored a trademark second three minutes before the break, easily dancing his way inside after receiving Andres Iniesta’s pass before producing a left-footed finish to make it 2-0 on the night and 5-1 on aggregate.
The second half began as the first ended. Cesc Fabregas produced a similar pass to Xavi’s for the first goal, lofting the ball over perfectly to leave Leverkusen’s high defensive line stranded as Messi took it on before chipping the goalkeeper once more in the 49th minute.
Substitute Tello then made it 4-0 in the 55th minute as he was put through on the left by Fabregas before slotting home right-footed.
Three minutes later the humiliation continued as Messi got his fourth, dinking the ball carefully in off the post.
Debutant Tello got his second just after the hour mark when Leverkusen afforded him a ludicrous amount of space and Dani Alves picked him out with a pinpoint cross to side-foot home.
Messi then made history with his fifth of the night five minutes from time, bending home a left-footed strike with alarming simplicity to make it 12 goals in seven European appearances this season.
by Buford Balony