On This Day In 2010: Lionel Messi Single-Handedly Destroyed Arsenal By Scoring All Four Goals
The world knew Lionel Messi was special before this Champions League game a decade ago - but his solo demolition of Arsenal showcased every single aspect of his genius.
"He made the impossible possible," said Arsene Wenger after Barcelona's No 10 scored all four goals in a 4-1 quarter-final second-leg triumph.
"He has six or seven years in front of him," added the Arsenal boss. "Touch wood that nothing happens to him, and he can reach unbelievable levels."
Spot on with everything except the longevity, Arsene - as Messi is still doing much the same 11 years on.
However when his club needed him most, the 22-year-old gave a warning of what was to come in this match. It was no stroll in a tie Barcelona were leading - Pep Guardiola's side were right up against it.
After Barca blew a 2-0 lead at the Emirates to draw 2-2, the Camp Nou was silenced by a man who (almost certainly) calls himself 'the Danish Messi'. Lord Nicklas Bendtner scored to put Arsenal into a 3-2 aggregate lead.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic - who had scored a double at the Emirates - injured, pressure to lead the fightback fell on Barcelona's small, scruffy No 10 in his baggy shirt. He set about ruining Arsenal's back line in a way that probably still gives them nightmares.
His first goal showed his left foot could be a hammer as well as a magic wand.
After Mikael Silvestre intercepted his pass, Messi reacted quickest to take a touch then launch a rocket past Manuel Almunia from outside the box. It was the start of an incredible 20-minute spell.
A pinpoint pass - one of the most underrated aspects of Messi's game - found Eric Abidal and while his ball across the box was cut out, Messi rapidly picked up a lay-off and lifted the ball over Almunia.
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His hat-trick was sealed by a perfect chip as he raced through on goal. Barca had gone from 3-2 down to leading the tie 5-3 - and it wasn't even half-time.
With his strike in the second half, Messi become the first Barcelona player to score four goals in a Champions League game - while also displaying his peerless technical skills.
Collecting Xavi's pass, he was too slippery for a trio of Arsenal defenders who tried - and naturally failed - to stop his path to goal. Almunia saved his initial shot but there was no mercy for the keeper, as Messi's follow-up finish slid between his legs.
The defending champions were into the semi-finals thanks to one man's performance. After the match, Guardiola struggled to find the words to describe Messi
"You have to see it," said Pep. "It is not something you can describe, because you have to see it to believe it."
That is still true a decade on and - when football does return and it's safe to travel - checking out Messi live before it's too late remains a must-do on any fan's bucket list.
Although we will understand if Arsenal fans, after all the pain he's inflicted over the years, are quite happy never to lay eyes on Leo Messi again.
All imagery: PA Images
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