Messi nails Champions League record with a hat-trick, Suarez breaks duck
Argentina wizard Lionel Messi broke the Champions League scoring record while Luis Suarez broke his Barcelona duck in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Barca romped to a 4-0 win at APOEL Nicosia but that fact was overshadowed by Messi and Suarez’s personal achievements.
Messi came into the match level with Spaniard Raul on 71 Champions League goals but he stabbed home from close range on 37 minutes to take sole possession of the record.
“I am happy to have achieved such a great record in such an important competition, but the really important thing is the three points which we won.” - Lionel Messi
He went on to notch a hat-trick on the night as Barcelona remained a point behind Paris Saint-Germain at the top of Group F after the French team beat Ajax 3-1 thanks to an Edinson Cavani brace and one from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Both sides have already qualified for the knock-out rounds and top spot will be decided in two weeks time at the Camp Nou.
Messi’s feat came just four days after the four-time World Player of the Year broke Telmo Zarra’s 59-year-old record of 251 La Liga goals with a hat-trick in a 5-1 thrashing of Sevilla to take his tally in the Spanish top flight to 253 goals in 289 appearances.
Just 10 minutes before that, Suarez, who moved from Liverpool in the close season, had finally notched his first goal – a brilliant solo effort – for the Catalans in his fifth appearance since making his debut in a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid on October 25.
Messi was hailed as the best player ever by Barcelona coach Luis Enrique after setting the record.
“Lionel Messi is the greatest player of all time, football is the king of sports and he will continue to surprise everyone for a long time,” Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, after Messi broke Raul’s record of 71 goals.
He was also full of praise for Messi’s fellow forward Luis Suarez who opened his account for Barcelona in the Group F match following his close season move from Liverpool.
“Suarez will score many more goals and he is a player who contributes much more than goals to the team,” said Luis Enrique.
Barca struggled to beat lowly Almeria in La Liga earlier this month and Luis Enrique was asked why his team had improved with a 5-1 win over Sevilla on Saturday and Tuesday’s result.
“Changes in performance are expected throughout the season and the next job is to prepare the team for a difficult game against Valencia following a good victory over difficult opposition who haven’t conceded a lot of goals in this competition,” he said.
APOEL coach Giorgos Donis heaped praise on Barcelona and record-breaking forward Messi, telling reporters the Spanish side were on “another level”.
“He (Messi) is a phenomenon and can do incredible things with a football.” - APOEL coach Giorgos Donis
But the German-born Greek coach was bullish about his team’s chances of beating Ajax Amsterdam away in their final group game to qualify for the Europa League. APOEL are bottom with one point behind the Dutch side who have two points. “It’s very difficult to win away from home in the Champions League but the players will fight until the last minute for the win,” he said.
Source; AFP, Reuters, YouTube
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CSKA Moscow 1 Roma 1
Manchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2
APOEL Nicosia 0 Barcelona 4
Paris Saint-Germain 3 Ajax 1
Schalke 04 0 Chelsea 5
Sporting Lisbon 3 Maribor 1
BATE Borisov 0 Porto 3
Shakhtar Donetsk 0 Athletic Bilbao1