Barcelona were in quite a predicament entering today's return leg of their Champions League tie with AC Milan. The club was facing elimination with a 2-0 deficit against the Italian club, so the pressure was definitely on. But then something happened. Something magical.
Lionel Messi happened.
In Messi's endless feats of brilliance, there is little doubt that today's performance sticks out the most due to the importance of the match.
The 25-year-old striker put on a magisterial display, leading Barcelona to a 4-0 win (4-2 aggregate) over Milan on Tuesday to reach its sixth straight Champions League quarterfinal.
The Spanish club was facing elimination after a defeat in the first leg of its Round of 16 against Milan, and the odds were against Barca. In the 21 seasons of the Champions League existence, no team had ever come back from such a deficit that Barcelona faced. But that didn't matter to the Argentine or Barcelona.
Messi led the way, and with just a flick of his left cleat within the first five minutes of the match, he put Milan on notice as he put one in the back of the net—the forward did this with half of Milan's team ganging up on him. Then just before halftime, Messi scored the game's second goal, putting Barcelona on the right path to make a comeback and sucking the life out of Milan at the same time.
There was some belief that Messi and Barcelona were on the decline—with two losses to its rival Real Madrid, and the loss to AC Milan in the first leg—but Messi and his club showed the folly of that belief.
(Of course there were many heroes in Tuesday's match, but Barca's brilliant No. 10 was the catalyst for this historic win.)
David Villa put the club ahead in the 55th minute with a 14-yard shot after a weak clearance by Milan's Zapata was intercepted by Javier Mascherano. Jordi Alba sealed the win in the second minute of stoppage time when he raced down the field on a counterattack after Messi stole the ball.
Before a rowdy crowd of almost 100,000 at Camp Nou, Barcelona made history with their comeback. With today's performance, Lionel Messi, the four-time FIFA Player of the Year, showed his brilliance. He showed the world he's on a whole other level.