Messi scores 4 goals to lead Barca over Arsenal

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lionel Messi pretty much put Barcelona in the European Champions League semifinals by himself.

The reigning world player of the year scored four goals, getting a hat trick in a 22-minute span of the first half, to lift the defending champions over Arsenal 4-1 Tuesday night and advance Barcelona to the semifinals for the third straight year.

"A player like this only comes along every 25-30 years," Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez said.

Barcelona won the home-and-home, total-goals series on 6-3 aggregate and will play Inter Milan in the semifinals starting April 20 in Italy. The second leg is in Spain eight days later for a berth in the final on May 22 in Madrid.

The 22-year-old Messi, expected to lead Argentina at the World Cup, has eight Champions League goals this season and moved one ahead of Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo for this season's scoring lead.

"Of course I hope I can keep this up," Messi said. "These four goals really make me happy. We need it to have this kind of match. We started badly, but we fixed it. What really matters is that the team keeps going like this, working and doing it well."

He became the first player to score four goals in a two-legged series in the competition and with 25 goals matched Rivaldo as Barcelona's career Champions League scoring leader.

"He's a player of such an incredible level," Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. "There are no words -- this kind of performance you have to see it."

Messi has 39 goals overall this season, the major reason Barcelona has a chance to overtake high-spending Real Madrid for first place in the Spanish league when they play Saturday night.

"He's the best player I've ever faced and he's the best player in the world," Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia said. "It's very difficult to stop someone who has so many skills like that, who can do whatever they want with the ball."

Nicklas Bendtner put the Gunners ahead in the 18th minute with his fifth Champions League goal of the season, tying Manchester United's Wayne Rooney for third.

Messi then took over, scoring in the 21st, 37th and 42nd minutes for a 3-1 lead. He got his final goal in the 88th minute after Almunia stopped his initial shot. Messi swept the rebound through the goalkeeper's legs.

"I don't know how many players can score that goal," Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger said "It's something that looks impossible that he makes possible. In exceptional games, exceptional players make the difference."

Source: AP

Related Posts:

0 Feedback:

Site Meter