Lionel Messi

Remembering Lionel Messi's record 5-goal Champions League haul

Krishan Davis
Mar 7, 2021, 9:50 PM GMT
Messi was imperious against Leverkusen in 2012
Messi was imperious against Leverkusen in 2012 | JOSEP LAGO/Getty Images

There is very little that hasn't been said, written, or shouted from the rooftops about Lionel Messi.

While his powers are showing signs of waning as he enters the twilight years of his career, the superlative Argentine is still putting up outstanding numbers for the Catalan giants.

But in 2011/12, Messi was different gravy; La Pulga would net a ludicrous 73 goals in all competitions, including a nice round 50 in La Liga.

Lionel Messi celebrates a goal for Barcelona
Messi was unstoppable in 2011/12 | JORGE GUERRERO/Getty Images

However, no one game was a better demonstration of an incredible player at the peak of his powers than Barcelona's Champions League last 16 second leg demolition of Bayer Leverkusen on 7 March, 2012 - where Messi would become the first ever player to score five goals in a Champions League match.

The Blaugrana came into the home leg of the tie as holders and already comfortably ahead on aggregate, having won 3-1 in Germany with Alexis Sanchez and Messi (obviously) among the goals.

But Pep Guardiola's side were in no mood to take their foot off the gas in the return, and instead put the pedal to the metal and went through the gears to romp to a 7-1 win on the night. Leverkusen were no mugs either, with experienced European campaigners Simon Rolfes, Lars Bender and Omer Toprak among their ranks, and now-Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno between the sticks.

The FC Barcelona and Bayer 04 Leverkusen players shake hands ahead of the Champions League round of 16 second leg
Leverkusen had no idea what was about to hit them... | David Ramos/Getty Images

For 25 minutes it was a level contest, but then episode 816 of The Messi Show began.

His first was pretty simple, as the number ten dashed through a chasm in Leverkusen's defence to latch onto a lofted Xavi through ball. Clean through and bearing down on goal slightly to the left of centre, Messi produced a cheeky lob to lift it over the stranded Leno for 1-0.

The second arrived shortly before half-time, with the impish Argentine this time collecting a pass from Andres Iniesta (no wonder he scored so many with the calibre of those assisting him), before cutting inside, evading three challenges and firing the ball into the bottom corner. Vintage Messi.

Four minutes after the break, the inevitable hat-trick. In what was almost a carbon copy of his first, Messi was played clear in the right channel by another world-class assister in Cesc Fabregas - phwoar - before stalling his run, drawing Leno out and sending a wonderful dink over the German's head.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi lifts the ball over Bernd Leno of Leverkusen
Messi seals his hat-trick with a wonderful chip | David Ramos/Getty Images

Messi's fourth just before the hour mark was sandwiched between two Christian Tello strikes. This time, a short corner routine saw La Pulga and Pedro (FFS) exchange neat passes before a defensive mixup saw Leno inexplicably parry the ball into the indomitable forward's path, who gladly tapped home via a kiss of the post.

With just 58 minutes on the clock and four goals already in the bag, the record of five goals in one Champions League game was well within reach.

However, Messi would have to wait the best part of half an hour to fulfil the script. With 84 minutes on the clock, you'd forgive most players if the nerves got the better of them with a record within touching distance. But Lionel Messi is no normal player.

Finding a pocket of space between the lines on the edge of the box, Messi collected a pass, shifted the ball out of his feet and curled a perfect, left-footed, L1+circle shot into the bottom corner. He'd done it. Five goals and another record to add to a now-burgeoning collection.

Unfortunately for Messi and co., Barça would exit the competition at the hands of eventual winners Chelsea in the semi-finals.

The only player to match Messi's feat? Well, let's just say it would be a very tricky pub quiz answer.

Former Shakhtar Donetsk talisman Luiz Adriano became the second ever player to score five in a Champions League game in a group stage demolition of Belarusian side BATE Borisov in October 2014, although that quintet included two penalties.

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