Lionel Messi showed he’s a man on a mission as he helped Barcelona reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
The Argentinian forward scored once, had a goal disallowed and won a penalty as Barcelona defeated Napoli 3-1 on Saturday, sealing a 4-2 win on aggregate.
Messi was at his brilliant best, with his first-half goal bound to be included in a compilation video of his 2019/20 season highlights.
The 33-year-old weaved his way into the box and simply wouldn’t be stopped, climbing back up after being taken down to fire past David Ospina.
“He’s just a genius,” commented BT Sport pundit Peter Crouch, per the Daily Mail.
“He's the only player in the world who can get up and have three unbelievable touches and curl it in.”
Messi then had a second goal chalked off after he was deemed to have handled Frenkie de Jong’s delightful cross.
The goal was initially given but after a lengthy VAR review, it was taken away as the ball contacted Messi’s arm as he brought it down.
The decision sparked controversy on social media, with fans mostly upset at the handball law that deems this a handball:
Messi certainly didn’t mean that. And the fact that it took the VAR minutes to reverse the call suggests it wasn’t a clear and obvious error.
The VAR drama wasn’t over, however. When Messi was quite obviously fouled by Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly inside the area, it needed four minutes to decide to award Barcelona a penalty.
So it was a match that featured more of match referee Cuneyt Cakir and VAR more than we would have liked.
And the controversy appeared to leave Messi frustrated as he refused to shake hands with the Turkish referee at full-time.
Footage has emerged of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner gesturing ‘no’ with his finger in the direction of the official, who was offering a hand bump.
Despite Barcelona’s success, Cakir’s involvement in the first-half VAR controversy seemed to have upset Messi.
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