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Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Five-star Messi shines as Barca dazzle

ESPNsoccernet staff

Lionel Messi became the first player to score five goals in a single Champions League match as Barcelona booked their place in the quarter-finals with an emphatic 7-1 win against Bayer Leverkusen.

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Reigning European champions Barcelona had been understated but superior in the first leg in Germany, winning 3-1, and were expected to ease through in the return match at the Nou Camp.

However, they played with trademark hunger under Pep Guardiola as Messi set yet another record and substitute Cristian Tello added two on his European debut in a performance of startling brilliance.

Karim Bellarabi managed a consolation in added time for Bayer Leverkusen to deny Barca a record Champions League victory at this stage of the competition.

Leverkusen had travelled to Catalonia in confident mood after winning their third straight Bundesliga game at the weekend, a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich, but their hopes evaporated after 25 minutes when Messi opened the scoring.

APOEL goalkeeper Dionissis Chiotis was the hero as he saved twice in a 4-3 penalty shootout victory to send the Cypriots into the quarter-finals of the Champions League at the expense of Lyon.

With the score level at 3-3 in the shootout, Chiotis saved successive penalties from Alexandre Lacazette and Michel Bastos to secure his side a place in the last eight on their first appearance in the knockout stages.

Gustavo Manduca scored the only goal of the night in normal time to cancel out Lacazette's winner for Lyon in the first leg.

Manduca's night ended on a sour note when he picked up a second booking in the 115th minute, but his team-mates - and Chiotis in particular - ensured his dismissal was not a precursor to their elimination.

APOEL had every reason to be confident coming into the match thanks to their record of just one defeat in their last ten home European games, and they looked bright early on.

They needed a quick goal to get their French opponents on the back foot, and that is what happened after nine minutes when the ball broke to Constantinos Charalambides in the area and his low cross was turned in at the far post by Manduca.

Manduca ill-advisedly took off his shirt to celebrate his goal - a decision that would come back to haunt him in extra-time.




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