Messi hits five as Barca destroy Leverkusen – Apoel advance on penalty shoot-out

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi put on a one-man show to destroy Bayer Leverkusen in the second leg of their last 16 tie. In doing so, he became the first player in history to score five in a single Champions League match and inspired his team to a 7-1 victory and a 10-2 aggregate scoreline.

Leverkusen knew they were up against it having lost the home leg 3-1 but three straight wins in the Bundesliga had given them some hope or prolonging their Champions League campaign. Their slim hopes were finally extinguished in the 25th minute when Messi picked up a ball from Xavi and brilliantly lobbed the keeper. Thre4e minutes before the interval Messi doubled the lead when he latched on to a pass from Iniesta and slotted it home. With the tie wrapped up, you could have forgiven Barcelona if they had strolled through the second half but they had other ideas.

Less than five minutes into the second period, Messi was sent through by Fabregas and repeated his earlier chip over the hapless Leno. Substitute Tello added a fourth in the 55th minute and Messi claimed his fourth soon after, chipping the ball in off the post. Tello then added a sixth as the Leverkusen defence opened up and Messi compounded their misery when slotting home his record-breaking fifth goal. An excellent goal by Bellarabi in the last minute was little in the way of consolation for a battered German side. It was a truly magical display from Messi that has underlined exactly why Barcelona are everyone’s favourites to retain the Champions League this season.

There was drama of a different kind in Wednesday’s other Champions League tie as Apoel Nicosia went through on penalties against Lyon having levelled the tie with a 1-0 victory on the night. Goalkeeper Dionissis Chiotis was the hero as he saved penalties from Alexandre Lacazette and Michel Bastos and take his side through to the quarter-finals.

Lyon’s 1-0 home victory was cancelled out by Gustavo Manduca’s ninth minute goal but the hero turned villain when he was sent off for a second yellow card with just five minutes of extra time remaining. Lyon went in search of a decisive goal but Lisandro fired wide. Apoel held on to ensure that the game went to penalties and kept their nerve when it mattered most, sending the French tumbling out of the competition. It concluded a dramatic night of top quality European action.

 

Harvey Mayson

Harvey Mayson is a professional sports writer and artist living in South West Scotland. He began working at his local newspaper in the south of England before going freelance to work on specialist sporting publications. He writes for a number of specialist sports sites both at home and abroad including football, horse racing and sports betting sites. He has also covered a wide range of sporting events such as the Paralympic Games, Euro 2012 and the Grand National. Harvey is also well known as an equestrian artist and can be contacted through his website.