Lionel Messi Became First Player To Score Five Goals In A Champions League Game: On This Day
An unstoppable Lionel Messi made history by becoming the first ever player to score five goals in a Champions League game, nine years ago today.
Bayer Leverkusen were the victims of a 24-year-old Messi masterclass as Barcelona won 7-1 at Camp Nou, completing a 10-2 aggregate victory for the defending European champions.
"Tonight we witnessed one of Lionel Messi's most special nights," said his manager, Pep Guardiola, afterwards. "Watching it was like receiving a gift."
:date: OTD in 2012, Barcelona hammered Leverkusen 7-1...- Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 7, 2021
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The Argentine became the FIRST player to score FIVE goals in a Champions League match :flushed::goat:pic.twitter.com/vM5zXVzWLJ
Messi put the Bundesliga side to the sword as he completed his eighth hat-trick of the season (by early March!) with a pair of sublime scoop shots as well as a goal which showcased his dazzling close control.
Then he casually added two more to break a record and become the first player to score five in a UCL match. He remains the only player to have achieved this in a Champions League knockout game.
Messi is a joke. For me the best ever.- Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) March 7, 2012
This was also around the time - with Guardiola's Barca flying - that people began talking about the Argentine genius not just being the best player in the world, but also hinting he could be the greatest of all time.
"Fella's a genius! Best ever by a distance in my lifetime! Never really saw Pele," said Gary Lineker on the night.
The then Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney added: "Messi is a joke. For me the best ever."
Fella's a genius! Best ever by a distance in my life time! Never really saw Pele- Gary Lineker :blue_heart: (@GaryLineker) March 7, 2012
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Five goals on the night took Messi to within seven goals of Cesar Rodríguez, Barcelona's record highest goalscorer at the time. A fact which blew Guardiola's mind.
"He deserves to be honoured right now because it's something really incredible that he is now just seven goals behind Cesar Rodríguez - he's only 24," marvelled Pep.
"It's not easy to score five goals in a single game and that's coming from someone who scored 11 in his entire career!
This Barcelona team was insane :heart_eyes: https://t.co/qvEOEKJ3GU- Callum Thomas :flag_black: (@callumtomos) March 7, 2021
Would genuinely like to know if the game feels easy to him. Frightening man :fire: https://t.co/MnE7pF0iry- Adam:four_leaf_clover: (@AJThoms214) March 7, 2021
The GOAT for me & always will be. Ridiculous. https://t.co/OS9Al0vutH- Éideán (@glioriginali_) March 7, 2021
"If he wants to, he'll score six one day. I have to also say that Andres Iniesta played magnificently too."
Maybe the supreme playmaker Iniesta did showcase his magnificent skill that night. But understandably the headlines were all about Messi.
Barcelona - who'd won two of the previous three Champions League titles - actually exited the competition to Chelsea in 2011/12. A shock defeat in the semi-finals crowned by Fernando Torres breakaway goal.
But the assessment that Messi was already well on his way to record-breaking greatness have definitely survived the test of time nine years on.
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