Lionel Messi scored all four goals as Barcelona put Arsenal to the sword in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, on this day twelve years ago.

Messi was still relatively new on the scene in 2010, having claimed his first Ballon d’Or the season previous. So, as ever in football, many doubters remained to be fully convinced that we were looking at the best player in the world – god forbid, the best player ever…

But on this night, Messi set down a marker to every other player in Europe, this was to be the new standard.


In the first leg of the tie, Arsenal had held Barcelona to a 2-2 draw at the Emirates and remained hopeful of getting a result going into the second the leg at the Camp Nou. Nicklas Bendtner’s 18th minute opener served only to stoke the fire of their optimism, as the Gunners now found themselves leading the tie on aggregate with just over an hour to play.

The performance

Take the stage, Leo Messi. Just two minutes after Bendtner’s opener, the ball came out to the little Argentinian on the edge of the area, who despite being surrounded by four Arsenal defenders, used his incredible first touch to knock the ball out of his feet and in a split second fire it into the top right corner.

Fifteen minutes later and Messi had turned creator, feeding Eric Abidal down the left-hand side with a nicely weighted through ball. The Frenchman crossed, but again the rebound came to the little man, who knocked the ball to the right of Gael Clichy and clipped a lovely finish past the wrong-footed Manuel Almunia.


Fast forward another seven minutes and Messi was in for his hat-rick. Running in on goal, Messi takes a look back at the desperate Arsenal defence trying to catch him, slows down and delivers the most audacious of chips over the charging goalkeeper. Messi had single-handedly blitzed a shell-shocked Arsenal, ending their Champions League dreams within 25 minutes.

“The most talented footballer of his generation” the commentary went, and they couldn’t have put it any better. In the second half, it was clear the fight had been knocked out of Arsenal but Messi decided to add a fourth before the final whistle anyway, just to make sure everyone knew that he was, in fact, the greatest.


The reaction

After the game, Arsene Wenger was as gracious as ever in defeat, comparing the 22-year-old to a “PlayStation game.”

“He’s like a PlayStation,” said the Frenchman. “I think he can take advantage of every mistake you make.

“Barcelona are a very good side but of course they have Messi who can make the difference at any moment in the game.


“He is very young but he can achieve a lot – there are not many players who can score four goals like he did.”

Barcelona would go on to play Inter Milan in the semi-finals, only to suffer a shock defeat to Jose Mourinho’s men, who of course, would go on to win it, beating Bayern Munich 2-0 in the final.


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