Ten years ago, Lionel Messi produced probably the greatest performance of his incredible career.
The then 22-year-old scored four goals against Arsene Wenger’s side to send Barcelona through to the Champions League semi-finals.
Messi and co. actually entered the second-leg trailing 2-1 after Arsenal had beaten the Spanish giants at the Emirates.
And when Nicklaus ‘Lord’ Bendtner put Arsenal 1-0 ahead at the Camp Nou, it looked as though they were heading through to the last four of the competition.
But little did they know they were merely poking the bear - the bear being Messi.
By half-time, the Argentine had scored a hat-trick.
His first came when he inadvertently played a one-two with Mikael Silvestre and, despite being surrounded by four Arsenal defenders, struck a fierce shot past Manuel Almunia. And in a blink of the eye, Messi put his side 2-1 ahead as he ran onto the ball, took a perfect touch with his right foot to take him past Silvestre before clipping the ball with the same boot over the onrushing Almunia.
And the tie was over before half-time as Messi raced through on ball and produced a trademark dink to complete his hat-trick.
With just minutes remaining, Messi grabbed his and Barcelona’s fourth as he embarrassed Emmanual Eboue, saw his first shot saved before firing through the legs of Almunia to complete an incredible night for him and his team.
But it wasn’t just his four goals. Messi’s entire performance was simply magnificent and a 15-minute highlight video proves just that.
In fact, it shows that it was one of the greatest individual performances of all-time.
And if you want to see one moment that summed up his display, watch out for the piece of skill at 3:40.
With Denilson, Bacary Sagna and Theo Walcott, Messi escapes them all, leaving the latter on the floor.
Incredible. Take a look at his full highlights below:
Of course, it wasn’t to be for Messi and his Barcelona side in the Champions League that season.
They would meet Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan in the next round, losing 3-2 on aggregate. It sparked wild celebrations from the Portuguese manager on the pitch at full-time.
Messi’s Arsenal performance may not have helped his side go on to become European champions but it may have played some role in him claiming his second Ballon d’Or that year, with teammates Andres Iniesta and Xavi making up the podium.
Messi has produced countless memorable performances but his display a decade ago may just be his best ever.
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