Much was being made of Petr Cech’s fantastic record against Lionel Messi before last night’s clash between Arsenal and Barcelona.
The goalkeeper had remarkably faced Messi six times before Tuesday without the Argentine finding a way past him.
It was a run that had lasted for over ten hours of football during Cech’s time at Chelsea and was referred to on countless occasions prior to the match.
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With this record circulating on social media and match previews all over the world, there was only going to be one outcome - Messi will score.
And he did. Not once, but twice against the hapless Arsenal stopper.
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In fact, his first goal made the Czech look a bit silly in all honesty.
Neymar laid the ball on a plate for his teammate. Messi dummied a first time shot which sent Cech to the floor and the former Chelsea keeper scrambled around, attempting in vain to stop the 28-year-old’s strike. He couldn't and the curse was well and truly over.
But Messi wasn’t finished there. He sent Cech the wrong way from the penalty spot 12 minutes later to wrap up a comfortable 2-0 victory and leave the goalkeeper slumped on the floor.
Newspapers in Spain mocked Cech and were delighted with the fact that the superstar had finally found a way past him - how dare someone prevent their favourite from scoring.
Mundo Deportivo published a cartoon showing a despairing Cech, with reference to the Bible.
It says: “On the seventh day, God rests. On the seventh match, God scores,” joking that it was God’s work that prevented Messi from scoring against Cech in the previous six encounters so, while he was resting, another God (Messi) scored.
Another newspaper, Sport, also got in on the act.
They showed a picture of Luis Enrique as a magician with the words “abracadabra,” with Messi appearing as a rabbit coming out of a top hat.
They also have crossed out Cech’s name to show that his impressive record against Messi is now no more.
The 2-0 defeat not only means that Cech’s record against Messi is over, but Arsenal’s Champions League campaign also looks finished.
If they do get knocked out, it will be the sixth consecutive season that the Gunners have exited the tournament in the round of 16.
Arsene Wenger’s men had enough chances to score, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain guilty of missing their best opportunity in the first-half.
Despite not scoring in the opening 45 minutes, they looked fairly comfortable with the away side failing to register a shot on target before the interval.
But with Luis Enrique’s team dictating the lion’s share of possession, it was always going to be a struggle for Arsenal to maintain their defensive stubbornness.
Messi scored his first from a lightening quick counter-attack involving the attacking trio of Luis Suarez, Neymar and then Messi before Mathieu Flamini brought the Argentinian down just seconds after coming on the pitch.
Messi, obviously, converted and put Barca on the brink of the last-eight.
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