The Argentine showed once again why he is the greatest of all time by scoring twice in a thrilling 3-0 win over Liverpool in the Champions League.
Jurgen Klopp said Camp Nou was no temple, but Liverpool’s coach watched nearly 100,000 devout followers bow before their god as Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona to a 3-0 win on Wednesday, leaving the Catalans with one foot in the Champions League final.
The best player on the planet, in the history of football, casually decided a match which had been balanced on a knife-edge, notching two goals to whisk the semi-final first leg out of the bold visitors’ hands.
Luis Suarez’s opening goal saw Barcelona strike the first blow but the Catalans at times were praying for salvation as Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane drove the hosts back.
And Messi delivered it, again, the Argentine popping up in the right place at the right time to stroke home the second, before dispatching a stunning free-kick into the one per cent of the goal Alisson could not cover for Barcelona’s third.
It was Messi’s 600th goal for the club in all competitions, but Barcelona’s deity has raced past so many milestones that they now seem meaningless.
From the start, the No.10 was playing at 100 per cent, well-rested over the past couple of weeks, looking for blood.
The Champions League is his dream and what this god wants, this god gets.
Messi’s faithful disciple Suarez sent Barcelona on their way, with the Uruguayan bordering on the demented at times on a visual level, as keen to get his hands on the trophy again as Messi.
“Once we’re playing there’ll be no friendship, no mates, none of those lovely memories,” Suarez said last week. And so it proved.
Suarez bit the hand which used to feed him and with such relish.
The Uruguayan used the shark-like instinct he possesses to time his run to perfection, meeting Jordi Alba’s supremely weighted cross and diverting the ball past Alisson to send Barcelona ahead.