Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 7th 2015 Contents A61
Thursday, May 7, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
BARCELONA---Lionel Messi scored
two outstanding goals and set up Ney-
mar to add another in injury time as
Barcelona handed Bayern Munich and
former coach Pep Guardiola a 3-0
defeat in the first leg of their Cham-
pions League semifinal yesterday.
Not even the coach who helped
Messi become one of the best to play
the game could find a way of stopping
the prolific forward from scoring his
76th and record 77th goals in the com-
Messi rifled a left-footed strike
between Manuel Neuer and the post
in the 77th, and three minutes later
brought defender Jerome Boateng to
the turf before chipping the goalkeeper.
Messi was in inspired form from the
start, and rounded off by providing the
pass for Neymar to race away and score
in stoppage time.
A day after Juventus beat Real Madrid
2-1 in the other first leg match, the
scale of Barcelona's victory now makes
it a runaway favourite to reach the
final---ahead of the return leg against
Bayern in Munich on Tuesday.
Guardiola had already made the risky
decision to start Robert Lewandowski,
who played with a mask to protect
fractures in his upper jaw and nasal
bone, when he also decided to try and
stop Messi and his fellow forwards with
a three-man defense.
Lewandowski, however, spent long
stretches waiting for counterattacks
that never happened. And when he
had Bayern's first chance in the 18th
minute---and what a chance it was
when Barcelona left him unmarked in
front of the goal---he scuffed Thomas
Mueller's low ball and sent it trickling
Led by Messi on the right, Barcelona
ran amok at the start.
Not only his usual unstoppable self
in attack as he sped through, around
and past defenders, Messi was inspired
in his pressure and that proved con-
tagious for his entire team as Luis
Suarez and Ivan Rakitic recovered ball
after ball inside Bayern's half.
Messi headed on a ball to leave
Suarez all alone and with room to move
for Barcelona's first opportunity in the
12th, but Neuer made a great save by
stretching his right leg to block his low
Neymar was next to rue a miss when,
two minutes later, Suarez crossed for
the Brazil forward on the edge of the
six-yard box, only for Neymar to slip
and send the ball off Rafinha and past
the wrong side of the post.
Messi showed some more of his
magic---he had already ignited the
stands by dribbling through the legs
of a defender---when he squirmed past
a line of defenders before curling a shot
Guardiola had seen enough and
ordered his team to shift to a four-man
back line. But Barcelona kept pouring
it on, and, luckily for the German
champions, continued to fail to convert
as Suarez headed a corner kick over
the bar in the 27th.
Bayern showed an immediate
improvement after halftime, and the
nerves of both Barcelona's fans and
players started to fray.
That was when Messi stepped up to
decide the match and put Barcelona
in charge of the tie.
Messi and Dani Alves combined to
put Barcelona in front when the right
back recovered the ball and laid off for
the Argentina international, who put
the ball on his left boot and fired a
shot between Neuer and the post.
Messi then did it all himself when
he used a lightning change of foot to
stagger Boateng before lifting a delicate
shot over Neuer.
That gave him one goal in the com-
petition more than Madrid forward
They were also Messi's 52nd and
53rd goals of the season, and put him
one goal ahead of Ronaldo with 10 goals
as the top scorer in the Champions
league this season.
Neymar made up for his miscues by
not wasting a pass from Messi that left
him alone to sprint forward and slot
a shot under Neuer.
Barcelona is now almost halfway to
avenging the 7-0 thrashing Bayern
dealt it at this stage two years ago. (AP)
Barcelona's Lionel Messi, right, scores his second goal past Bayern's goalkeeper
Manuel Neuer during the Champions League semifinal first leg football match at the
Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, yesterday. Barcelona won 3-0. AP PHOTO
Guardiola's Bayern 3-0
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