Five-goal Messi leads Barca rout
Lionel Messi took Bayer Leverkusen apart with a record five-goal Champions League haul as Barcelona swept past the Germans and into the quarterfinals 7-1 on the night and 10-2 on aggregate last night.
The Argentine World Player of the Year was at his breathtaking best, becoming the first player to score five in a Champions League match as the holders handed out one of the most comprehensive drubbings in the competition's history.
After they lost last month's round of 16 first leg in Leverkusen 3-1, the Bundesliga side's impossible mission was effectively ended when Messi sped on to Xavi's lofted pass and scooped the ball over Bernd Leno in the 25th minute.
He added a second with a trademark run across the defence and a low shot three minutes before halftime and completed his hat-trick with another stunning chip, this time with his right foot, four minutes after the break.
Substitute Cristian Tello netted twice either side of Messi's fourth, which came after Leno spilled the ball at his feet, and the Argentine wizard bagged his fifth with a powerful strike six minutes from time before Leverkusen substitute Karim Bellarabi scored an added-time goal.
The last time a player scored five goals in European soccer's top club competition had been when Ajax's Soren Lerby did it against Omonia in the old Champion Clubs' Cup in 1979-80.
Messi has 48 goals for Barcelona this season, including 12 in the Champions League.
He increased his Champions League career total to 49.
Apoel Nicosia led Lyon 1-0 for a 1-1 aggregate after 90 minutes, sending the tie into extra-time.
The match ended after The Times went to press, so please go to www.sportLIVE.co.za for the final result.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was charged with improper conduct by Uefa yesterday for comments he made about the referee following Arsenal's Champions League exit to AC Milan.
Wenger, who is now facing the possibility of his third Uefa touchline ban in a year, accused referee Damir Skomina of awarding their opponents too many free kicks in Arsenal's 3-0 win on Tuesday.
Wenger confronted the Slovenian official at the end of a disappointing night when Arsenal were eliminated 4-3 on aggregate despite their emphatic victory at Emirates Stadium.
The case will be heard on March 29 by Uefa's control and disciplinary body.
Wenger was hit with a one-match ban by European soccer's governing body for berating Swiss referee Massimo Busacca following his team's Champions League last-16 exit to Barcelona last March.
He was then handed a further two-match touchline suspension for violating that ban by communicating with the Arsenal bench from the stands during a playoff tie against Udinese earlier this season.