‘Messi treated City like play­ground kids’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

LIONEL Messi ran riot through Pep Guardi­ola’s Manch­ester City de­fence as though it was a play­ground game, ac­cord­ing to Barcelona coach Luis En­rique as he savoured a daz­zling 4-0 Cham­pi­ons League win.

In­spired by Messi’s hat-trick, Barcelona joined Ar­se­nal, Bay­ern Mu­nich and Paris Saint Ger­main in reg­is­ter­ing im­por­tant wins on Wed­nes­day night.

The Ar­gen­tine ge­nius was hailed for his com­po­sure after a month out with a groin in­jury.

Be­fore 96 290 peo­ple at Camp Nou, Messi picked up on one City mis­take on 17 min­utes and added two more — one bril­liantly curled in — in the sec­ond half after City keeper Car­los Bravo was sent off.

“We have seen the calm that Messi has to fin­ish in­side the area as if he was in the school yard,” said En­rique.

“If there is any­thing you can ex­pect of Messi it is that. It doesn’t mat­ter how many days he has been out or the games he has missed.”

Messi was “phe­nom­e­nal,” added Barcelona de­fender Samuel Umtitei.

“There will never be any­one like him. It is in­cred­i­ble what he did,” added fel­low de­fender Lu­cas Digne.

While Guardi­ola was adamant he would not change his style of press­ing from the back, the for­mer Barcelona coach is now un­der pres­sure with City sec­ond in group C, five points be­hind lead­ers Barcelona and just one ahead of Borus­sia Moenchenglad­bach.

“Un­til the last day I am a coach I will try to play from the goal­keeper,” said Guardi­ola.

“It is al­ways dif­fi­cult to play in Barcelona with 11 play­ers and with 10 the game was over,” added Guardi­ola.

“We cre­ated enough chances, we ar­rive at the by­line many times, but with their strik­ers when they ar­rive they pun­ish you.”

Ar­se­nal boss Arsene Wenger said his stars must work on their “hu­mil­ity” after their 6-0 de­mo­li­tion of Lu­do­gorets — with Me­sut Ozil also bag­ging a hat­trick — in Group A.

“Let’s not be too quick on the ver­dict. We have a strong squad and a strong spirit, but you have to take care of it and keep your feet on the ground,” Wenger said.

“In this game a lot is linked with con­fi­dence. I feel that at the mo­ment be­cause we win game after game, maybe we get through dodgy pe­ri­ods with less psy­cho­log­i­cal dam­age.

“The only way to win some­thing big is to fo­cus on the next one and work on hu­mil­ity.”

As well as lead­ing Group A on goal dif­fer­ence ahead of PSG, Ar­se­nal are sec­ond in the Pre­mier League level on points with Manch­ester City. Wenger is anx­ious how­ever to get Ozil and fel­low scorer Alexis Sanchez to sign new con­tracts.

Bay­ern Mu­nich also romped to a 4-1 vic­tory over PSV Eind­hoven in Group D — re­cov­er­ing some es­teem after los­ing to lead­ers Atletico Madrid in their last Euro­pean game and draw­ing twice in the Bun­desliga.

Thomas Mueller, Joshua Kim­mich, Robert Le­wandowski and Ar­jen Robben were all on tar­get in what coach Carlo Ancelotti said was the reaction he had ex­pected from the Ger­man cham­pi­ons.

“The at­ti­tude was good, we learnt our lessons from Frank­furt,” said the Ital­ian, who had won his first eight games in charge be­fore the Madrid de­feat.

“We played well, but we have to give our best in the next few games to make sure we play Atletico for first place,” warned Ancelotti whose team travel to PSV in two weeks.

Paris Saint Ger­main beat Basel 3-0 to stay on course to qual­ify from Group A with Ar­se­nal.

An­gel Di Maria, Lu­cas and Edin­son Ca­vani gave PSG an ul­ti­mately com­fort­able vic­tory but coach Unai Emery was not 100 per­cent happy.

“The first half was not good. That’s true. We were saved by the posts but we scored, and at 1-0 the match opened up for us and we had chances,” said Emery. PSG “need to work to im­prove,” added the Spa­niard whose side have also strug­gled in Ligue 1 this sea­son.

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