The news that Lionel Messi missed a penalty in Barcelona’s La Liga demolition of Celta Vigo would normally be a story in itself, but when the world’s best player does it by cheekily passing the ball sideways for one of his team-mates to score, you just have to accept that the man is a genius among the rest of us mere mortals.
Messi proved to be at his inspirational best to help Barcelona overcome Celta Vigo 6-1 on Sunday night, although it wasn’t all going according to plan when John Guidetti’s penalty cancelled out Messi’s opener before half-time.
However, it would not be the former Manchester City striker’s spot-kick that everyone would be raving about come the full-time whistle.
Two goals from striker Luis Suarez gave Barcelona breathing space with 15 minutes left to play, and when Messi was fouled in the Celta area, the Argentine was given the chance to double his tally from the penalty spot.
But instead, the selfless 28-year-old proved again why he puts his team-mates first ahead of his own needs as he ran up to take the penalty kick, only to emulate the great Johan Cruyff and pass the ball yards forward into Suarez’s path for the Uruguayan to score and complete his hat-trick.
The stunt brought both praise and criticism, with fans revelling in Messi’s masterstroke while others claimed that it was a sign of disrespect towards their opponents given the arrogance needed to perform such a trick play showed the Catalans were not taking Celta seriously.
At least Messi and Suarez can say they pulled it off though, which is more that can be said about Arsenal’s Robert Pires and Thierry Henry when they attempted a similar trick against Manchester City back in 2005.
Watch Arsenal's penalty fail below...
On that occasion, Pires managed to mis-hit the ball and fail to knock it into the path of Henry, allowing City to clear their lines and vent their anger at what was deemed to be a display of arrogance.
Cruyff originally mastered the art of the penalty trick when he knocked the ball into the path of the on-rushing Jesper Olsen while playing for Ajax, allowing Olsen to pass the ball back to the Dutch legend to score in the empty net.
Watch Cruyff's penalty from 1982 below...
Cruyff and Olsen’s moment of inspiration came in a 5-0 rout of Helmond Sport, and while Barcelona were also cruising towards victory, perhaps Arsenal were ill-advised to try it when leading 1-0 after Pires had already converted a penalty earlier in the match.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies