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Magical Messi makes light work of Arsenal

Published: Tuesday 6 April 2010, 22.30CET
FC Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal FC (agg: 6-3)
Four sublime goals from Lionel Messi, including a fabulous first-half hat-trick, took the holders into the semi-finals for the third year running.
by Graham Hunter
from Camp Nou

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Match statistics

BarcelonaArsenal

Goals scored4
 
1
Attempts on target8
 
2
Attempts off target7
 
4
Corners3
 
2
Offsides1
 
3
Fouls committed16
 
19
Yellow cards0
3
Red cards0
 
0

Standings

 
Published: Tuesday 6 April 2010, 22.30CET

Magical Messi makes light work of Arsenal

FC Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal FC (agg: 6-3)
Four sublime goals from Lionel Messi, including a fabulous first-half hat-trick, took the holders into the semi-finals for the third year running.

It required a performance of absolute brilliance and four wonderful goals from Lionel Messi but FC Barcelona underlined their status as European champions by sweeping past Arsenal FC to advance to a semi-final against FC Internazionale Milano.

Even after falling behind to Nicklas Bendtner's early goal on the counterattack, Barça built on last week's impressive display in north London as Messi contributed a sumptuous 22-minute hat-trick and added a fourth two minutes from time. The 6-3 aggregate scoreline took the UEFA Champions League titleholders into the semi-finals for the third year in a row and will also give food for though to José Mourinho, whose Inter side now face the task of stopping the Barça juggernaut in the last four.

The visitors had started full of self-belief and intensity of purpose, unfazed by Barça's attacking arsenal. Abou Diaby combined telescopic tackling with lung-busting runs, and that earned his team their 18th-minute breakthrough. The Arsenal midfielder robbed Gabriel Milito on the halfway line, Theo Walcott sprinted down the right and passed towards Bendtner. Daniel Alves arrived in time to block and Victor Valdés pawed away the loose ball, but the Dane was up quickest to prod in.

By then it had already taken a fine fingertip save from Almunia to turn away a Messi drive. It was obvious the inspirational Argentinian wanted to appear in a third successive semi-final, and he duly took matters into his own hands. Three minutes after Bendtner's strike, Messi's attempted pass bounced back off Mickäel Silvestre so he simply crashed a left-footed drive high past Manuel Almunia from outside the box.

After the power came the finesse as the European champions started to find their passing rhythm. Eight minutes before the break that culminated in Messi sending Eric Abidal through and, though Thomas Vermaelen got a foot to the left-back's low cross, Pedro Rodríguez tapped the loose ball to Messi. One touch to take him free of a challenge and the next to dink over Almunia and Barcelona were in control.

Two become three when Arsenal were caught pushing up. Seydou Keita headed a loose ball into the path of Messi and the No10 was bearing down on Almunia again. Once more the Spanish goalkeeper was reduced to the role of helpless spectator as the 22-year-old deftly scooped the ball up and over his dive to complete his hat-trick in style.

Although Messi's play was sublime Arsenal continued to push Barcelona close to their limit, Diaby and Denilson striving to contain Xavi Hernàndez. Josep Guardiola's side lost Abidal, in his second comeback match after seven weeks out injured, Maxwell coming on, and the home coach added a tactical change with Bojan Krkić being replaced by Yaya Touré.

Arsenal would not concede defeat and although both were offside, Bendtner and Walcott hit the woodwork with efforts which showed the spirit in Arsène Wenger's team. It was their misfortune to come up against a team at their imperious best, and Messi underlined that with one last flourish in the 88th minute, rounding Vermaelen and Gaël Clichy before clipping past Almunia at the second attempt – only the sixth time a player has scored four goals in a UEFA Champions League match.

Last updated: 27/11/12 14.31CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2010/matches/round=2000030/match=2000480/postmatch/report/index.html#messi+stars+barca+stroll

Quotes

  • Josep Guardiola

    Read more"Messi was on fire tonight – so decisive. He demonstrated what a star he is."

  • Arsène Wenger

    Read more"We lost to a team who are better than us and against the best player in the world, but we had opportunities."

At a glance

What happened
Nicklas Bendtner's early goal was soon trumped by three from Lionel Messi in the space of 22 minutes and he added a fourth late on for good measure.

Key moment
For three minutes Arsenal led the tie but then Messi's attempted pass rebounded off Mikaël Silvestre and the striker's superb finish turned the tide.

Numbers game
Messi now is the top scorer in this season's competition on eight goals and he is only the sixth player to claim four in a UEFA Champions League game.

One on one
The experienced Silvestre was given a start in the absence of William Gallas but neither he nor his colleagues could contain Messi in his current mood.

Crowd pleaser
The third goal that killed off Arsenal. Through on the edge of the box with only Manuel Almunia to beat Messi lofted the ball over the keeper and into the net.

What it means
Barcelona will continue the defence of their title against FC Internazionale Milano, visiting Italy on Tuesday 20 April before the home return eight days later.

Lineups

barcelona

Barcelona

arsenal

Arsenal

1
Víctor ValdésVíctor Valdés (GK)
1
AlmuniaManuel Almunia (GK) (C)
2
Daniel AlvesDaniel Alves
2
DiabyAbou Diaby
4
MárquezRafael Márquez
3
SagnaBacary Sagna
6
Xavi HernándezXavi Hernández (C)
5
VermaelenThomas Vermaelen
10
MessiLionel Messi
Goal21
Goal37
Goal42
Goal88
7
RosickýTomáš Rosický
Yellow Card44
Substitution73
11
Bojan KrkićBojan Krkić
Substitution56
8
NasriSamir Nasri
15
KeitaSeydou Keita
14
WalcottTheo Walcott
16
BusquetsSergio Busquets
15
DenilsonDenilson
Yellow Card31
17
Pedro RodríguezPedro Rodríguez
Substitution86
18
SilvestreMikaël Silvestre
Substitution63
18
MilitoGabriel Milito
22
ClichyGaël Clichy
22
AbidalÉric Abidal
Substitution53
52
BendtnerNicklas Bendtner
Goal18

Substitutes

13
PintoJosé Manuel Pinto (GK)
21
FabiańskiŁukasz Fabiański (GK)
8
IniestaAndrés Iniesta
Substitution86
9
EduardoEduardo
Substitution73
14
HenryThierry Henry
27
EbouéEmmanuel Eboué
Substitution63
Yellow Card67
19
MaxwellMaxwell
Substitution53
30
TraoréArmand Traoré
24
Y. TouréYaya Touré
Substitution56
31
CampbellSol Campbell
32
FontàsAndreu Fontàs
32
MéridaFran Mérida
35
Jeffren SuárezJeffren Suárez
37
EastmondCraig Eastmond

Coach

Josep Guardiola (ESP) Arsène Wenger (FRA)

Referee

Wolfgang Stark (GER)

Assistant referees

Jan-Hendrik Salver (GER), Mike Pickel (GER)

Fourth official

Knut Kircher (GER)

Legend:

  • GoalsGoals
  • Own goalOwn goal
  • PenaltiesPenalties
  • Missed PenaltiesMissed Penalties
  • reds_cardRed Cards
  • yellow_cardsYellow cards
  • yellow_red_cardsYellow/red card
  • SubstitutionSubstitution
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