Gerard Pique: With Lionel Messi in the team, we feel we can win anything
Barcelona teammates hail Argentine striker, who scored two and assisted twice in 5-1 hammering of French side to ensure Spaniards seal quarter-final berth
Lionel Messi came up just short of matching Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick a day earlier but still scored twice and set up two more as Barcelona beat Lyon 5-1 on Wednesday to reach the Champions League quarter-finals. After Ronaldo's treble on Tuesday for Juventus sent Atletico Madrid packing in Turin, Messi delivered his own symphony at the Camp Nou, where Lyon were outplayed in this Last-16 tie. "Cristiano yesterday was impressive," Messi said afterwards. "It was a big surprise because I thought Atletico would be stronger but Cristiano had a magical night."
Barca in demolition mode
A 0-0 draw in France in the first leg last month meant Lyon always had a chance to make Barca nervous, but Messi's sumptuously chipped penalty and a simple finish from Philippe Coutinho looked to have finished them off before half-time. Yet Lucas Tousart's volley left Lyon one goal away from putting Barcelona out, only for Messi to take charge again. He scored once more, before teeing up Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele to complete the victory. Messi now has 108 goals in the Champions League, behind Ronaldo's imperious 124, but his latest double takes his team one step closer to the trophy they crave the most.
"When he is at that kind of level, he is almost unstoppable," Lyon coach Bruno Genesio said. "We did what we could." Pique said: "Big players like Leo and Cristiano, they give you so much. Not just in results. Having Leo on your team makes you feel like you can face anything."
Top teams in the fray
Certainly, Barca will be amongst the two or three opponents that clubs will be keenest to avoid, with only Manchester City and perhaps Juve, because of Ronaldo, carrying the same sense of power and momentum. For Barcelona, domestic dominance has become the norm, meaning the Champions League is what will define their season. "The team has been consistent in all the competitions but the Champions League is decided by fine margins. We will try to do better."
Messi, who has won the Champions League four times but only once since 2011, is playing like a man on a mission. "We are all extremely focused for this competition and Leo too," Valverde said. "He played an incredible match, extraordinary. He made assists, scored goals, won the ball back. "We are used to him, but somehow he always surprises us."
No. of goals Barcelona's Lionel Messi has scored in the Champions League
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