Barcelona progressed to the quarterfinals of the Champions League Wednesday with a 7-1 rout of Bayer Leverkusen. But that is not what captured the headlines.
Barca superstar Lionel Messi turned in a historic performance, scoring five of the seven goals!
Messi has been nothing short of sensational this season, scoring 48 goals in all competitions. But to put up those kind of numbers you need to have your fair share of multi-goal matches, something Messi has plenty of.
Seven games this season with three or more goals may not be a record breaking mark, but it is surely enough to warrant this list.
Here is a look back (with video) at all seven of his perfect performances.
Osasuna never had a chance against the superior skills of Messi and Co. in only the third game of the La Liga season. With Barca coming off a disappointing draw to Real Sociedad the week before, you knew they would be going full throttle.
The Argentinean got things underway early as he tapped in a Cesc Fabregas header back into the box.
His second was as easy as the first, with his teammates moving the ball with the kind of flair we have come to expect out of the Catalans. Again, all Messi had to do was one touch it into the back of the net.
However, his third was Messi being Messi. After spinning off his defender, leaving the ball to a teammate and getting in back behind the line, he gave a quick little fake to freeze the keeper and coolly slotted it in.
Not the most difficult three goals he ever scored, but the first of many such games.
It didn’t take more than two weeks for Messi to get his second hat trick of the season, this time against the lesser side from the country's capitol, Atletico Madrid.
David Villa and an own goal gave Barca a 2-0 cushion, before Messi went on to add the last three.
The first was an example of how he can single-handedly create something out of nothing, as he took a throw in and ran it right down the throats of the opponents.
The second was more of the same, as the Madrid defenders failed to close down on the quick-footed forward.
And the third, well, just watch.
Mallorca should have known what was going to happen as soon as Messi put away an early penalty. Only five times this season had Messi scored only one goal in a game where he netted one at all.
The second goal was easier than the penalty. Standing unmarked in front of the net, all he had to do was side foot it into the open goal.
The third was one of those that looked much simpler than it really was. A ball over the top blasted off his foot on the first touch with such ease, you had to wonder if he was wearing steel-toed cleats.
There was nothing incredibly glamorous about any of the three...other than the fact that every time he scores it is brilliant!
His first hat trick of the Champions League season for the star came in their fourth match against Viktoria Plzeň. Though the Czech fans may have liked to see an upset for their home side, they got their money’s worth from Messi.
Again, a penalty opened his run as he made the Plzeň keeper look a fool as he stumbled on to his behind trying to outwit the taker.
Not much to say about the second. It was the kind of goal that would make the highlight reel of 99 percent of the players in the game, but for Messi, it falls to the cutting room floor.
Then, of course, he had to humiliate the keeper one more time for good measure, pulling it around the on rushing goalie with ease and sliding it into the empty net.
This list has already featured 12 goals by Messi, and if you have been paying attention, you would notice that I have not used the phrase “header” yet to describe any of them.
But that’s the only way to describe his first against Malaga.
The 5’8” man is not known for getting up big, but he looked it when he powered home a ball with his forehead from 15 yards out running onto a cross.
The second was no big deal. Just Messi running through the entire midfield of Malaga, passing them one by one before using his momentum to finish low and hard. You know, vintage stuff.
And the last, well…take a look.
It is an incredible accomplishment whenever a player scores four goals in one game, but when they make it look like something out of FIFA 12, well that’s something really special.
Messi looked like he was playing an online game, where he was so much better than his competition that he gave himself a self imposed rule: Chip shots only.
Even then he was able to score four against a very good Valencia side. Cheeky perhaps, but it is also another example of why he is the best player in the world.
And then came Wednesday’s historic match that inspired all of this.
A chip to start. Fancy footwork inside the box next. Followed by an perfect touch to another chip. Then cleaning up of some junk in front of the net. Pure power to top it off.
Ninety minutes, five goals—a microcosm of the animal that is Lionel Messi.
Now, as someone who takes pride in always trying to see the game from all angles, I will now offer up a bit of criticism: What, Messi, can't score a free kick? Ronaldo can!
There, now let's all allow our jaws to drop to the floor in unison as we recognize that he still has a third of the season left to add to this list!
So which of these was your favorite performance?
As always, please leave your comments below and thanks for reading!
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