Lionel Messi has been on an absolute rampage this season. The Argentine super star was on another level Wednesday against French side Lyon in the Champions League round of 16. Messi said at the beginning of the campaign that he wanted to bring the European Cup back to Barcelona, and that is looking ever more likely now.
A 0-0 first leg in France was a cause for concern for Barcelona supporters. Reminders of last season’s defeat to AS Roma on away goals were becoming relevant again. Barca had to make sure they had a comfortable lead at the Camp Nou to avoid the same result.
A controversial penalty decision in the 16 minute on Luis Suarez led to the match’s first goal. Messi stepped up with ice in his veins and scored a cheeky Panenka penalty to put his side ahead.
The Uruguayan striker would contribute to the second goal as well. Suarez’s great turn in the box and cross to winger Phillipe Coutinho put the hosts up 2-0 going into halftime.
Everything was going Barcelona’s way until the 57 minute. A short corner led to a dangerous cross from Lyon that Barcelona couldn’t clear. The ball eventually fell to Frenchman Lucas Tousart for Lyon’s first goal of the tie. This away goal could have proved costly had it not been for Messi’s magic.
In the 77 minute, Messi picked up the ball near half field and dribbled his way into the box. He deceived two Lyon defenders by cutting on to his right foot before netting his second goal of the night.
Just three minutes later, Messi would pull three defenders out of position to cover him before he laid off a perfect pass for Gerard Pique and the fourth Barcelona goal of the night.
The little magician wasn’t done quite yet. The game’s last goal came from French winger Ousmane Dembele after yet another Messi assist. Barca’s number 10 finished the match with two goals and two assists for the first time in his career. He has also scored eight goals and recorded three assists just in the Champions League this season.
Lyon player Nabil Fekir on Messi: “When he’s not scoring, he’s assisting. When he’s not assisting, he’s playmaking. We played a good game, but history’s best player made it impossible.”
Messi has been directly involved in 57 goals this season, 21 more than the next closest (Ronaldo with 36).
The Champions League quarter-final draw will be held Friday, March 15.