The ‘messiah’ of modern football and Barcelona, Lionel Messi, scored 4 times in the return leg game of the Champions League quarter finals against Arsenal at the Camp Nou and sent his team to a face-off with Inter Milan for the semi-finals as they won 4-1 for the night, and 6-3 on aggregate.
It promised to be two great games when the draw was made, and so it was as the first leg ended with a pulsating 2-2 scoreline at the Emirates Stadium, and the return leg saw the Gunners score first practically from their first attack, as Walcott fed the ball to Bendtner, and although his first effort was parried by Valdes, he tucked in the rebound on the 18th minute to silence the Catalan crowd. But this lead was only for 3 minutes, as at the other end, following a fluid move by Barcelona players, Messi was lucky to get the ball back to his feet after Silvestre failed to deal with it, but the conclusion was pure genius as Messi struck it with his favorite left foot past a helpless Almunia. On the 37th minute, Messi was on the scoresheet again as Barcelona raided the left flank, and Abidal’s pass was played in to Messi by Pedro, and he concluded brilliantly this time with the right foot as both Clichy and Almunia failed to intercept him. And 5 minutes later he wrapped up another masterpiece as he ran through the Arsenal half with the ball and brilliantly lobbed Almunia after Abidal yet again put the ball into his path.
3-1 at half-time, 5-3 on aggregate, it needed a much better second half by Arsenal if they were to qualify. However it was Barcelona controlling the pace of the game and Arsenal could do little to trouble them as Pep Guardiola’s men looked to defend this advantage. Bendtner and Rosicky had the 2 best opportunities to score but failed to capitalize, and eventually on another raid by the Catalans, Messi scored his 4th on the 88th minute and delivered the fatal blow to the Gunners. He was even allowed to take the match ball home after the ref blew the final whistle, it is not everyday that a player scores 4 goals in one match, and that too against a team like Arsenal 😆
This win means Barcelona will face Inter Milan in the semi-finals, the Milan team which went on to win 0-1 in Moscow against CSKA, a rapid 6th minute goal from a Sneijder freekick, and despite opportunities for Milito and Stankovic, Akinfeev managed to keep them at bay, but ending up losing 0-2 on aggregate, and that too with most of the second half playing with 10-men for the Moscow team. The semi-finals will be a reunion for Eto’o and Ibrahimovic against their respective former team and the advantage may just sway in Barcelona’s favor if their recent performance is taken into account.
Tonight 2 more teams will qualify between Man Utd-Bayern Munich and Lyon-Bordeaux to make it to the semi-finals.