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Five-goal Messi leaves Leverkusen spellbound

FC Barcelona 7-1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen (agg: 10-2)
Lionel Messi became the first player to score five goals in a UEFA Champions League game as Barcelona claimed a record knockout round victory.

Five-goal Messi leaves Leverkusen spellbound
Five-goal Messi leaves Leverkusen spellbound ©UEFA.com

Lionel Messi scored the first five-goal haul in UEFA Champions League history as holders FC Barcelona powered to a 7-1 win against Bayer 04 Leverkusen, sailing through to the quarter-finals 10-2 on aggregate.

Messi became the first man to score four goals in a game twice in the competition inside an hour before adding his milestone fifth six minutes from time. The 20-year-old substitute Tello had struck twice on his European debut either side of number four, and Barcelona were on course for another new mark, the biggest win in UEFA Champions League knockout round history. Karim Bellarabi's last-gasp reply restricted them to a record-equalling victory; it was scant consolation.

While Camp Nou regulars may say the reigning champions were initially slow to go through the gears, in truth they were not required to. They began with an air of control, patiently seeking the breakthrough that would effectively end the tie. They entertained while they waited. It took a desperate block from Ömer Toprak to prevent Pedro Rodríguez when Bernd Leno could only parry Messi's volley and Andrés Iniesta, playing wide left, was sensational.

Iniesta tirelessly ran past opponents, two of whom were booked for rash challenges, and went off to a rousing ovation after only 53 minutes − by then, the game was already won. Gerard Piqué, stooping for a Xavi Hernández free-kick midway through the first half, might have opened the scoring. It delayed the inevitable only by two minutes as Xavi's lofted pass allowed Messi to race clear and lob Leno. One became two just before the break when Iniesta broke from left to right and fed Messi, whose jinking run across the box ended with him sliding home left footed.

Leverkusen coach Robin Dutt had accurately predicted how little possession his team would have − and how well they would need to use it. His players failed him on that count. Messi's 24-minute hat-trick arrived when he again beat the offside trap and chipped Leno. It was a procession, and while the Camp Nou chanted with ecstasy, Josep Guardiola proceeded to protect Xavi and Iniesta by replacing them with Tello and Seydou Keita.

Tello was on the pitch for under two minutes when he cushioned a Cesc Fàbregas pass and opened his body to bend the ball around the despairing Leno. Barcelona were irresistible. Messi made history when Leno fumbled a loose ball in the 58th minute but there was a special roar when Tello, fast becoming a fans' favourite, managed to power a speculative shot through the Leverkusen goalkeeper − the German will pray he does not suffer many more nights like this.

Yet while another replacement, Bellarabi, would ultimately have the last word for a side that had hitherto mustered only a fine Eren Derdiyok chance, it was Messi's night. With six minutes left he provided one more glorious left-footed finish after Keita's pass. Five-star in every respect; one of the great performances of all time.

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