All eyes were on Lionel Messi at Old Trafford on Wednesday night during the Champions League quarter-final first leg clash between Manchester United and Barcelona.
The 31-year-old had been in scintillating form recently - even by his remarkable standards - and was expected to wreak havoc against Chris Smalling and co. at the Theatre of Dreams.
Messi set up the early opening goal, when his pass to Luis Suarez led to Luke Shaw turning the ball into his own net, but the world-class Argentine forward wasn’t the same after a challenge from Chris Smalling left him with blood pouring from his face.
Spanish newspaper AS revealed that Messi had suffered a small deviation of the nasal septum during the collision, which made breathing difficult.
He was reportedly forced to breathe by mouth for the remainder of the match, while a small eyebrow cut is understood to have made it ‘impossible’ for him to see correctly.
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Basically, Messi couldn’t breathe or see properly for an hour of the match, which explains his below-par performance in Manchester.
If anything, he deserves credit for staying on the pitch. The mere sight of Messi going off injured would have provided the Red Devils with a major confidence boost.
After the match, Messi posed for photos with a few people milling around inside Old Trafford, including the mother of United striker Romelu Lukaku.
Adolphine Lukaku could not contain her delight after Messi posed alongside her, giving the Barcelona icon a hug while saying: “Oh, Messi, Messi!”
Let’s be honest, we’d all react in the same way if we were that close to the GOAT.
Messi can also be seen smiling. He’s used to such reactions, although maybe not from the mother of an opponent.
Isn’t it a wholesome clip, though?
Lukaku and his mother have been through a lot over the years and have come a long way.
He revealed details about his tough childhood during a fascinating interview on The Players’ Tribune last summer.
"There were even times when my mum had to 'borrow' bread from the bakery down the street,” the Belgium international said.
"The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they'd let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.
"I knew we were struggling. But when she was mixing in water with the milk, I realised it was over, you know what I mean? This was our life.
"I didn't say a word. I didn't want her to stress. I just ate my lunch. But I swear to God, I made a promise to myself that day. It was like somebody snapped their fingers and woke me up. I knew exactly what I had to do, and what I was going to do. I couldn't see my mother living like that. Nah, nah, nah. I couldn't have that."News Now - Sport News