Lionel Messi has edged one step closer to breaking new ground in Champions League history by moving equal with Raul’s goalscoring record, after notching his 70th and 71st goals in the competition on Wednesday evening.
Messi was on target twice against Ajax at the Amsterdam Arena in a 2-0 victory for Barcelona, which confirmed his side’s passage into the knockout stages. But most notable was Messi’s goalscoring achievement.
The Barcelona star has now revealed his favourite goals of the 71 he has recorded in the Champions League and, unfortunately for Manchester United supporters, both of those selected by Messi came against the Red Devils.
“Choosing a goal? The goals in the finals are the prettiest and those most remembered,” Messi said when asked to select his best.
Messi has twice found the net in the final of the Champions League, and on both occasions he has been on the victorious side, against Manchester United in Rome in 2009 and also at Wembley two years later.
The first of these firmly extinguished any hopes Manchester United had of defending the trophy they had beaten Chelsea to in the previous campaign, with Messi’s a second of the game for Barcelona, to which the opposition had no reply.
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It was far from a characteristic Messi finish but is one of his most iconic, with the diminutive Argentine towering at the back-post, albeit unmarked, to head decisively past Edwin van der Sar. The slow-motion shots are breathtaking.
His second goal in the UEFA showpiece was a more traditional Messi success; a precise left-footed effort that beat the ‘keeper at full-stretch. It moved Barcelona into the lead after Wayne Rooney had levelled Pedro’s opener, before David Villa completed the scoring.
Aged only 27, there should be further opportunities for Messi to score in the final and, as always, Barcelona are among the favourites to go all the way once again this season.
As expected, they have moved out of their group with little fuss - although a defeat to Paris Saint-Germain would not have been in their plans - and Messi will surely surpass Raul before they exit the competition.