Soccer-Record man Messi hits five for Barcelona
BARCELONA - Reuters
Barcelona's Lionel Messi (R) scores his fourth goal past Bayer Leverkusen's goalkeeper Bernd Leno during their Champions League last 16 second leg soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona March 7, 2012. REUTERS photoLionel Messi at his breathtaking best ripped Bayer Leverkusen apart with a record five-goal Champions League haul on Wednesday as Barcelona swept past the Germans and into the quarter-finals 7-1 on the night and 10-2 on aggregate.
The Argentine World Player of the Year became the first player to score five in a Champions League match with the holders handing 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 mission impossible 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 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.
Messi has been enjoying a purple patch in recent weeks, even by his lofty standards, and Wednesday's goals took his tally to 14 in his last five matches for club and country.
He now has 12 in the Champions League in seven appearances this season and has netted an astonishing 30 goals in his last 25 games in Europe's elite club competition.
Leverkusen coach Robin Dutt cut a lonely figure on the touchline in the second half as his side were humbled by the Spanish, European and world champions.
However, the 4,000 travelling Leverkusen fans high up in the giant arena remained in fine voice until the end and Bellarabi's goal was some reward for their efforts to drown out the 75,000-strong home support.