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Messi looks back on brilliant Barcelona night

Published: Thursday 8 March 2012, 8.32CET
After becoming the first player to score five in a UEFA Champions League match, Lionel Messi told UEFA.com it was all about retaining the trophy, and saluted two-goal team-mate Tello.
by Graham Hunter
from Camp Nou
 
 
 
Published: Thursday 8 March 2012, 8.32CET

Messi looks back on brilliant Barcelona night

After becoming the first player to score five in a UEFA Champions League match, Lionel Messi told UEFA.com it was all about retaining the trophy, and saluted two-goal team-mate Tello.

The relentless manner in which Lionel Messi pursued goal after goal long after the tie against Bayer 04 Leverkusen was not only won but the Camp Nou fans had been given double or treble their money's worth might make it appear to some the that FC Barcelona striker really is in pursuit of records.

The sweetest part of it, for me, is that the team continues its run of form at the moment, winning games in style; that's the way to go as far as we can in the Champions League
Lionel Messi
A night like that is what everyone in the whole world dreams of – not only making your debut in the Champions League with the best team in the world but hitting two goals as well
Tello

Initially it seemed his sole concern, having waited 364 days since his last home goal in this competition, was to ensure that a calendar year would not pass without Messi stamping his authority on a tie in front of his devoted fans. However, once his delightful lob over Bernd Leno opened the scoring, he proceeded to become the first player in the history of the UEFA Champions League to hit five goals.

Messi finished the triumphant evening only seven goals short of equalling Barcelona's all-time scoring record in official competitions. Note to anyone who has not been paying close attention: Messi is still only 24.

However he was happy to explain to UEFA.com that his eyes are set on short-term gain rather than the history books. "The most important thing tonight is that all these goals we scored take us one step closer to winning the Champions League, which is our objective," Messi said. "We went out there wanting to ensure qualification for the quarter-finals and we achieved that.

"I have always said that it's fantastic when things come off for you like tonight and you play well, but only if you meet your aims for the match. That's what happened against Leverkusen. The team played very, very well, the performance had some beautiful moments and we scored lots of goals."

During his stellar time at the Camp Nou, Messi had already scored four goals twice (against Valencia CF and Arsenal FC), had notched up 14 hat-tricks and is in a run of form which includes 14 goals in his last five matches for club and country.

"It's all about enjoying the moment – from how it went with Argentina the other week [scoring his first hat-trick for the Albiceleste] to how it's going right now for my club," he continued. "The sweetest part of it, for me, is that the team continues its run of form at the moment, winning games in style; that's the way to go as far as we can in the Champions League.

"As for the draws for the next rounds, I don't care which opponents we end up facing or when. Any club which has reached this stage is only here because it has done its work very well, and whoever we draw are going to be tough opposition."

Messi is practically an old stager compared with 20-year-old Tello, whose two goals on his UEFA Champions League debut contributed to the 7-1 win, which meant an aggregate 10-2 victory across the two ties. Messi, generous as ever, could not be more pleased.

"Obviously, it makes me happy to see Tello achieving that," he said. "He's been training and playing with the first team for a while now. However, he's not the only one doing well - there are a number of youth team products who are emerging with him. The coach shows real faith in the players who have been developed in-house and Tello took advantage of the opportunity given to him today, just as others have been doing already this season. We are all delighted for him."

Tello, used as a winger up until this point, explained that finding himself one-on-one with goalkeepers while on first-team duty is no big deal. "All my life until now I've been a centre forward so although I'm used wide for the first team, I'm also used to finishing like a striker," he said.

"Put it like this - things are coming off for me at the moment. A night like that is what everyone in the whole world dreams of – not only making your debut in the Champions League with the best team in the world but hitting two goals as well. I can only thank the fans for the reception they gave me tonight, but more importantly I also have to thank the coach for putting so much faith in me. I'm both happy and proud."

Last updated: 25/09/14 6.30CET

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