Messi shows his class against Lyon

Messi shows his class against Lyon

BARCELONA: Lionel Messi pledged at the start of the season to bring “that beautiful cup” back to the Camp Nou and on the evidence of Wednesday night, few would bet against him.

Barcelona’s 5-1 thrashing of Lyon in their Champions League last 16 second leg, a score that overlooked a nervy spell in the second half when the visitors were a goal from going through, in the end, was all about him. Messi scored twice, including once from the penalty spot, although it was no ordinary spot-kick, instead a delightful chip that hung in the air and plopped perfectly down the middle.

There was a pair of assists too, for Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele, during a three-goal flurry in the final 12 minutes, with Messi leaving Lyon defenders sprawled to add a second of his own.

They restricted him to two goals, one short of Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick that had sent Juventus through and Atletico Madrid crashing out in Turin on Tuesday. Messi paid tribute. “Cristiano had a magical night,” he said. The talk has been of a changing of the guard, after Real Madrid’s European hegemony was ended by Ajax, and a new era, with Spain having only one side in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2010. But Messi and Ronaldo remain constant, the former now on 108 goals in the competition, behind the latter’s imperious 124.

Each still has the power to settle a tie on their own and those most ardent in the debate about who is greater might be hoping for a Barca-Juve showdown when the draw for the quarter-finals is made on Friday.

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