Little maestro hits another remarkable note

Finally after 681 minutes it came. Leo Messi's 54th-minute goal last night was his first in England and it came so soon after it had seemed that he had missed his greatest opportunity to break a duck that had seen him play seven matches for Barcelona and one for Argentina without scoring on English soil.

At 23 Messi is already running out of records and milestones and after failing to find the net at Anfield, Old Trafford, the Emirates and Stamford Bridge he chose the greatest stage to write another chapter in his extraordinary story.

Nine minutes into the second half he flashed his shot past Edwin van der Sar, the man he should have beaten one minute before the break. It was on 44 minutes of the first period he set off on another mazy run from just inside Manchester United's half before unleashing David Villa down the Barcelona right and it looked as though Villa would squeeze his shot in at the near post as Pedro had just done to beat the United goalkeeper.

But instead Villa – who would make amends with a sublime third in the second half – flashed the ball across the face of the six-yard box where Messi was hurtling towards the advancing Van der Sar. The Argentine arrived just too late as the ball fizzed off the wet Wembley turf and past them both for a goal-kick.

Messi sunk to his knees in disbelief before walking forlornly back towards the halfway line.

When the whistle was blown a minute later he went down the tunnel with the look of a man who had missed his chance to bury a demon but with his 52rd goal of the season he put things right.

Barcelona's first-half goal came without a meaningful contribution from Barcelona's No 10. Andres Iniesta had played in Xavi and Pedro had peeled away into space. He was then found brilliantly by the Barcelona captain and scored Barcelona's first.

That goal was then cancelled out by Wayne Rooney and the possibility presented itself that he could finally eclipse his opposite No 10. Twelve months earlier, he had been set that task ahead of the South Africa World Cup and had fallen so far short that to even contemplating him doing it in the Champions' League final would not have been believable.

Rooney was inspired and Messi frustrated; until that second-half moment of brilliance. After he had put Barcelona ahead he went in search of a 53th goal of the campaign.

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored that many but his tally has been assisted by Real Madrid's obsession with their centre-forward finishing as top scorer. Many of his end of season goals came in unimportant matches – Messi's goals have come in the biggest games of the season. He got the two that saw Barcelona establish a two goal first leg-lead against Real Madrid in the semi-final with one of the goals of the tournament and last night's goal brought him level with Ruud van Nistelrooy for 12 goals scored in one Champions' League campaign.

When Barcelona celebrated winning their league at the end of this season the microphone was passed from player to player on the pitch at the end of their last game.

Players gave long speeches thanking the crowd and praising team-mates but when it was passed to the Barcelona No 10 he said that he would do his talking on 29 May.

Today – 29 May – he will take the plaudits as Barcelona supporters celebrate their fourth European Cup. Yesterday was the day he finally buried that English hoodoo.

News
people
News
Moss and Grimshaw arrive at the party
peopleKate Moss, Claudia Schiffer and Nick Grimshaw at Jonathan Ross's Halloween party
News
i100Amazing Amazon review bomb
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drinkFrom Mediterranean Tomato Tart to Raw Caramel Peanut Pie
Extras
Boys to men: there’s nothing wrong with traditional ‘manly’ things, until masculinity is used to exclude people
indybest13 best grooming essentials
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
News
i100
Travel
travelPurrrfect jet comes to Europe
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch attends the London premiere of his new film The Imitation Game
people He's not as smart as his characters
Life and Style
healthMovember isn't about a moustache trend, it saves lives
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities