Friday 24 November 2017

Lionel Messi: Barcelona success comes before personal glory

Lionel Messi became the first player to score five goals in a Champions League match
Lionel Messi became the first player to score five goals in a Champions League match

Lionel Messi shrugged off another night of personal achievement to focus on helping Barcelona into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

The Argentinian became the first man to score five times in a game in Europe's premier club competition in another sensational solo display as title holders Barca eased into the last eight with a 7-1 thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen.

Pep Guardiola's side were at their unplayable best, with young substitute Cristian Tello also scoring twice, as they advanced 10-2 on aggregate.

Messi, 24, was the undoubted star but he was quick to play down his own role to concentrate on the bigger picture.

He said: "The most important thing tonight is that all these goals we scored take us one step closer to winning the Champions League, which is our objective.

"We went out there wanting to ensure qualification for the quarter-finals and we achieved that.

"I have always said that it's fantastic when things come off for you and you play well, but only if you meet your aims for the match. That's what happened against Leverkusen.

"The team played very, very well, the performance had some beautiful moments and we scored lots of goals."

Messi's modesty failed to deflect attention away from another magnificent display.

The Fifa World Player of the Year earlier became the first man to score four times in two Champions League games - he also hit four against Arsenal in 2010 - before adding a fifth with a crisp left-foot finish from the edge of the area.

Wednesday night's haul, plus the recent hat-trick for Argentina against Switzerland, means Messi has scored 14 goals in his last five games for club and country.

"It's all about enjoying the moment - from how it went with Argentina the other week to how it's going right now for my club," he said.

"The sweetest part of it, for me, is that the team continues its run of form at the moment, winning games in style; that's the way to go as far as we can in the Champions League.

"As for the draws for the next rounds, I don't care which opponents we end up facing or when. Any club which has reached this stage is only here because it has done its work very well, and whoever we draw are going to be tough opposition."

Barca team-mate Cesc Fabregas claimed Messi is the best player ever to play the game.

The midfielder said: "You can expect anything from Leo. He is the best player in history, we have never seen anyone like him.

"He didn't play at the weekend and he wanted to do well. He enjoys being on the pitch and we are happy to have him."

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