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.
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