Champions League: Lionel Messi rises to the goal scoring challenge set by Cristiano Ronaldo
The Barcelona forward scores a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Ajax
Thursday 19 September 2013
“Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better”. If Lionel Messi was a fan of broadway shows, the Argentine might have been humming an Irving Berlin number after his hat-trick in Barcelona's 4-0 Champions League win over Ajax on Wednesday.
Messi's haul in the Group H win at the Nou Camp, which made him the first man to score three times in four different Champions League games, came a day after Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo netted a treble of his own against Galatasaray.
What counts is not whether Messi did it better, which is a matter of opinion, but rather that the game of one-upmanship between the best players at Spain's two biggest clubs shows no sign of coming to an end.
Both have been smashing records with breathtaking speed and are closing in on more.
Messi, 26, took his overall goals tally in Europe's elite club competition to 62 and is now only nine short of Raul's all-time scoring record of 71
Ronaldo, 28, is hard on his heels with 54.
"The coaches who have come to this room have always talked about how surprising he is," Barca coach Gerardo Martino said of compatriot Messi at the Nou Camp press conference.
"I am yet another."
The World Player of the Year took a while to get going against the Dutch champions on Wednesday before curling a stunning free kick into the net off the post in the 22nd minute.
In the second half, the maestro found his music and played it to perfection.
Sergio Busquets surged through the midfield 10 minutes after the break before sending Messi into space on the right, the Argentine darting past his marker and clipping the ball into the net.
Perhaps the most characteristic of his three goals was the last, in the 75th minute.
Starting from the right and moving left across the edge of the area, he waited for a path to clear through the tangle of Ajax legs before picking his spot in the bottom righthand corner.
"I'm happy to be able to help him," Barca's new Brazilian signing Neymar told reporters.
"He is a genius, the best in the world."
Another hat-trick for Messi. Another record. Another Barcelona victory.
elephant appealPrince William signs up for our charity appeal
elephant appealSo says man jailed for cutting off dead elephant's tusks
booksWe examine the best titles for teens
scienceResearchers teach border collie to understand sentences using more than 1,000 words
booksA Christmas story in six parts
travelWill high-value tourism help the workshops of this Renaissance city?
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Latest in Sport
Liverpool 3 Cardiff City 1 match report: Luis Suarez leaves Malky Mackay with nothing but pride
The worst owner in football? Vincent Tan faces fan backlash as Malky Mackay clings to Cardiff job
Spurs don't want Glenn Hoddle as their new manager
Arsène Wenger: Now is the time to finally beat Jose Mourinho
Manchester United 3 West Ham 1 match report: Ashley Young returns in style to finish off Hammers
- 1 Top PR exec Justine Sacco under fire for sending racist tweet before flying to Africa
- 2 French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 The publisher who played with fire: the battle for control of Larsson's £30m legacy
- 5 Police seize possessions of rough sleepers in crackdown on homelessness