November 2nd, 2005: Barcelona 5-0 Panathinaikos; A routine European victory at Camp Nou for the Catalan giants on the face of it. But, it's also a match that holds extra significance, as the game that Lionel Messi scored his first ever Champions League goal.

At just 25, the Argentine superstar is already Barcelona's leading goalscorer in the competition, overtaking Rivaldo's haul two-years ago, and is currently ranked third top scorer in the history of the Champions League (since 1992/93) with 53 goals.

Real Madrid legend Raul leads the way with 71 goals, but it's surely only a matter of time before Messi surpasses that feat, to add another accolade to his growing list of European triumphs.

In 2011/2012, Messi equalled Milan legend Jose Altafini's European record - set in 1962/63 - when he scored 14 goals in one season in the Champions League. And, the achievements don't stop there.

Messi is the only player to have won the Champions League top scorer award four years in a row, as well as being the only player to score two hat-tricks in the competition in the same campaign.

Last season, the Barcelona forward also became the first person to score 5 goals in a single match in the Champions League era (though that feat has been achieved by 10 players in the European Cup).

Today, on the seven-year anniversary of the pint-sized magician's goalscoring exploits, GiveMeFootball has decided to celebrate the three-time Ballon d'Or winner's unrivalled achievements, by picking out five of his greatest individual Champions League moments.


Manchester United 0-2 Barcelona: May 27, 2009

With the help of his Barcelona team-mates Andres Iniesta and Xavi, Messi ran riot in the Champions League final in Rome. So small of frame yet so immense of talent, the Argentine proved as industrious as he was inventive, ending the debate over who was the best player on the planet.

His performance was rewarded with a goal, when the smallest player on the pitch, looped a header over helpless Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar. It was the first time Messi truly announced himself to English fans, but it would not be the last.


Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal: April 6, 2010

Messi produced a mesmerising master-class to end Arsenal's Champions League dreams and send Barcelona into the semi-finals with a 4-1 victory on the night, and a 6-3 aggregate success.

The prodigiously talented forward claimed a hat-trick of extraordinary quality in the space of 21 first-half minutes, and added a fourth right at the death after the Gunners had threatened to upset the odds by opening the scoring in Camp Nou.


Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona: April 27, 2011

There was fighting and faking but not much football, until the 88th minute when Messi delivered a moment of rare beauty. Having already put Barca 1-0 up in the semi-final first leg against their great La Liga rivals at the Santiago Bernabeu, he scored a truly wonderful goal.

Dashing past five players, he sprinted into the Real Madrid penalty area and slipped the ball smoothly past Iker Casillas to double the visitors' lead, and raise his season's total, to a remarkable 52 goals for his club.


BATE Borisov 0-5 FC Barcelona: Sept 28, 2011

Messi struck a brace either side of the break to make it a comfortable Group Stage night for Barcelona in eastern Europe, in what was their first ever game in Belarus.

An own goal, and a Pedro strike helped them on their way, before the Argentine took advantage of some awful handling by Borisov goalkeeper Gutor, who dropped the ball seven minutes before the break, presenting the attacker with the simplest of finishes.

His second was an unstoppable drive from just inside the area, which brought Messi level with Hungarian great Laszlo Kubala on 194 Barcelona goals; an incredible achievement at the age of 24.


FC Barcelona 7-1 Bayer Leverkusen: March 7, 2012

Messi became the first player to score five goals in one Champions League game, and moved to within seven goals of becoming the highest goalscorer in Barcelona's history.

In keeping with the extraordinary nature of his record-breaking career, the player had complained of a headache before the one-man demolition of the team that just four days earlier had beaten Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.

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Football
UEFA Champions League