Car in India with Lionel Messi's number and Barcelona FC colours: photo by Umeshsrinavasan, 29 August 2011
deceiving elf -- Keats
GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen (Messi 25) I was typing 'GOAL!' when he was 45 yards out. It's a sublime finish from Lionel Messi. With Leverkusen having a suicidally high line, almost on the halfway line in fact, Messi curved his run to get beyond the defence onto a straightforward through pass from deep by Xavi. He ran into the area, a little left of centre, and lifted a wonderful scoop over the outstretched left arm of Leno. For most players such a scoop shot would have been a risky finish, but Messi always works within the limitations of his talent. There are no limitations.
Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left, scores his first past Bayer Leverkusen's Bernd Leno during the Champions League last-16 tie: photo by Manu Fernandez/AP via the Guardian 7 March 2007
GOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen (Messi 42) For most players this would have been a sublime goal; for Messi it is utterly routine. We've seen him score this type of goal so many times before. He was found by a perceptive angled pass by Iniesta, just outside the area to the right of centre. He ran into the box and then across the area in a straight line, the ball never more than a few millimetres from his left foot. After dummying to shoot a couple of times, he placed the ball into the far corner. He made a difficult chance look offensively easy.
Lionel Messi shoots from outside the penalty area against Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League final: photo by funnydae, 27 May 2009
GOAL! Barcelona 3-0 Bayer Leverkusen (Messi 50) I'm sorry, but this is just ridiculous. It's not remotely fair. Barcelona should be handicapped, made to play with nine men, when Lionel Messi is in their side. Messi has scored his eighth hat-trick of the season – his eighth hat-trick of the season – and this might be the best goal of the three. Again he ran beyond the defence onto a through pass, this time from Busquets. His first touch on the edge of the area was exquisite, but the covering Schwaab seemed to have forced him a little wide. Then Messi produced a glorious chip with his weaker right foot that arced over the head of Leno and plopped gently into the far corner. The extent and the efficiency of his genius is totally beyond our comprehension.
Lionel Messi celebrates one of his four goals for Barcelona against Arsenal in the Champions League: photo by Darren Staples/Reuters via the Guardian 7 April 2010
GOAL! Barcelona 5-0 Bayer Leverkusen (Messi 58) Messi has four. After some more rat-a-tat passing on the edge of the area, Pedro tries to slip the ball through to Messi. He's blocked off by two defenders and Leno comes to claim, but he's at full stretch and the ball slithers from his grasp. Messi, who kept running, passes the ball in from a very tight angle on the left of the six-yard box.
59 min I am less speech.
GOAL! Barcelona 7-0 Bayer Leverkusen (Messi 85) Lionel Messi becomes the first man to score five goals in a Champions League match. It was another terrifyingly simple goal, passed into the corner at pace from the D. There's nothing left to say.
87 min Lionel Messi is 24 years old.