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Lionel Messi Lauds Cristiano Ronaldo's 'Magical Night' After Atletico Hat-Trick

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMarch 14, 2019

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 14:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona gives his thumbs up during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Valencia at Camp Nou on April 14, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has put rivalries to one side and praised Cristiano Ronaldo for his "magical night" in Turin on Tuesday when his hat-trick guided Juventus into the UEFA Champions League's last eight. 

Real Madrid great Ronaldo fulfilled his own prophecy, as reported by Marca (h/t Eurosport), and scored three to pull Juve from their 2-0 first-leg deficit and into the competition's quarter-finals (U.S. only):

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick gives Juventus an historic Champions League comeback 🎩 The man owns the #UCL 👑 https://t.co/CIGbqxXSyC

Messi scored two of his own as Barcelona beat Lyon 5-1 on Wednesday, and he told reporters after the game: "What Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus did was impressive. I thought Atletico Madrid would be tougher. Ronaldo had a magical night with three goals."

Both Ronaldo's Juve and Messi's Barca will feature in the quarters, with the former hoping to win a fourth Champions League in a row after clinching the trophy in each of his last three seasons with Real.

As was the case with the Bianconeri and Ronaldo, Barcelona would not have advanced on Wednesday were it not for Messi's contribution of two goals and two assists (U.S. only):

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

A day after Cristiano Ronaldo's dramatic hat trick, Lionel Messi tallied 2 goals and 2 assists to lead Barcelona to the #UCL quarterfinals 🤩 Watch every big moment from Wednesday with the Champions League Highlight Show on #BRLive: https://t.co/f5E25hfsd8 https://t.co/FVstpl7xXo

The pair have long been painted as adversaries, and Ronaldo did little to simmer that competition when he challenged Messi to join him in Serie A in December.

The 34-year-old—who left Real Madrid for Juventus in a £100 million deal last summer—is the Champions League's all-time top scorer on 124 goals and boasts an astonishing knockout-stage record:

B/R Football @brfootball

Cristiano Ronaldo has been involved in 77 goals in 77 Champions League knockout games 🤯 https://t.co/XZPUnNdj7x

Messi, 31, was generous with his words towards his rival following Ronaldo's hat-trick performance, which was particularly timely given the Portuguese had scored just one Champions League goal for Juve before Atletico's visit.

Barcelona's talisman has been a more consistent force in front of goal this season and has scored 36 times in 36 appearances in all competitions. Ronaldo has scored 24 goals in the same number of games.

BBC Sport illustrated Messi as the more potent player in Europe this season:

BBC Sport @BBCSport

Anything you can do, I can do better. Do Lionel Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo thrive on each other's magic? Read👉https://t.co/dUVwZtELvT https://t.co/YDGAKAQxS4

Messi continued and predicted a difficult quarter-final regardless of who Barcelona face: "All of the opponents are complicated. Ajax, for example, showed that they're an amazing team of youngsters and they don't fear anyone. It'll be difficult no matter who we face. We have to prepare ourselves for a tough challenge."

Wednesday's brace took Messi up to eight Champions League goals this season and makes him the highest scorer still active in the competition.

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