Messi Magic Puts Barcelona in Charge

A Lionel Messi masterclass inspired Barcelona to a 3-0 victory against Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semi final in Barcelona on Wednesday night.

A resilient Bayern seemed to be heading for a draw but two late goals by Messi and a third by Neymar saw Barcelona emerge 3-0 victors to take a big aantage going into the return leg match in Munich on May 12.

The game got off to a hugely exciting start, with both teams playing expansive and frantic football which left plenty of space in the midfield.

The atmosphere was especially heightened by the return of Bayern manager Pep Guardiola to the club where he won so many trophies.

It was Manuel Neuer who came to the Germans’ rescue in the 11th minute when his trailing leg denied Luis Suarez in a one on one which brought out the best from the Bayern keeper.

Bayern had chances too, with Robert Lewandowski’s mistiming a close range effort and sending it wide.

The first half was defined by exciting and high tempo football which created plenty of chances. Neuer was on hand again to make a save with his boot just before half time from a Dani Alves effort.

The second half lacked the speed of the first, as the players naturally tired of applying constant pressure on the opposition, but it did see Bayern make a resurgence.

Neymar should have done much better with a shot from 10 yards on the hour mark, but it was only a matter of time before Barcelona capitalized.

With Bayern feeling the strain by the 78th minute, it was inevitable that a mistake would cause the first goal. A defensive error saw Neymar lay the ball off to Messi, who hammered past the outstretched arms of Neuer to put Barcelona ahead.

Only two minutes later in the 80th minute, the fans were treated to another stunning finish by Messi. He wound his way through the Bayern defence before deftly chipping over Neuer to make it 2-0.

As Bayern sought to chase an elusive away goal in the dying minutes, Barcelona were able to counterattack and find a third, with Neymar slotting the ball through Neuer’s legs to effectively kill off the tie.

Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano spoke after the game, telling reporters “It was a very tight game, but we had the best chances. We are very happy, but we know it will be difficult in Germany even with the three goal aantage.”

Barcelona will now travel to Bayern Munich next week with a monumental task and very little hope of progressing in the tournament.

Source : The Namibian