Messi Steals The Limelight At The Bernabeu




Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

With 75 minutes gone in the first leg of the second semifinal, the Santiago Bernabeu was turning into a warzone! Firstly Barca’s reserve goalkeeper Jose Pinto was sent off at halftime for clashing with Real defender Sergio Ramos. Then Pepe’s horrible challenge on Daniel Alaves earned himself a red card while Jose Mourinho was banished from the touchline for being too aggressive and the players were looking for an excuse to clash!

If there was one man, who wanted to play football in this warzone, it had to be the boyish figure of Lionel Messi. Messi slotted home a goal in the 75th minute before scoring a vintage goal with three minutes left on the clock as Barcelona completed a massive victory over their biggest rivals to carry home a two goal advantage to make themselves favourites for securing a berth in the finals to be played at Wembley.

Mourinho decided to stick to the defensive tactics that brought his side a 1-1 draw in the league and a Copa Del Rey triumph over Barca in the past couple of weeks as he left out Adebayor and Higuain on the bench. Mourinho also missed the services of Carvalho who was suspended for the game. Guardiola, who on the other hand was without his influential playmaker Andreas Iniesta, opted for an attacking formation with Messi, Villa and Pedro finding a place in the starting lineup.

Xavi and Ronaldo kept both the goalkeepers busy early on in the game but the first real opportunity came when Villa let fly a shot past the far post as Casillas was left watching. The attacking combo proved to be more than a handful as Casillas was called into action a couple of times. As time passed by, the intensity raised as more fouls were committed. It became a start-stop game as the players began to get into each other’s faces. Arbeloa was cautioned in the 40th minute while Alaves got himself a yellow card just before the half ended. The players clashed near the dugout area as the referee called for half time and Barca’s reserve keeper Pinto was sent off following an incident with Sergio Ramos.

Mourinho introduced Adebayor at the interval giving Madrid more physical presence in the box. Ronaldo headed over the bar before misfiring a freekick way into the stands as Real showed signs of frustration. They were finally made to pay in the 61st minute as Pepe was shown a red card for a reckless challenge on Alaves. Mourinho was very vocal in his protests on the touchline and was sent to the stands himself. Barcelona, with the extra man advantage, took control of the game and dominated possession thereon. Their patience finally paid off as Afellay capitalized on a Marcello slip to get the ball across through to Messi who scored from close range. Real Madrid 0, Barcelona 1!

Messi didn’t need any such assistance a few minutes from time. He collected a pass deep inside the Madrid half and wrecked havoc through their defence beating four defenders before putting the ball past a helpless Casillas. Real Madrid 0, Messi 2!

It was a classic Messi goal, his 11th goal in the tournament and he had stamped foot on a match that was dominated by clashes between players by doing what he does best – scoring goals!

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Monish Menon

Author:

Hi, I am Monish Menon from Hyderabad and currently working at Franklin Templeton Investments as a Compliance Business Analyst. Sport has always been my passion since I was a kid and I invest all my non-existent free time by watching, playing, writing and analyzing various sporting events across the world. Apart from being a diehard Manchester United fan and a Ferrari supporter, I believe that Roger Federer is still the best tennis player and Sachin Tendulkar is God. I play club cricket and I also am a part of my organization’s cricket and football squad. Being such a sports fanatic, writing about it is something that came naturally to me and I am glad that I got an opportunity through thesportsmirror.com to share my thoughts with the rest of the world. For other articles written by me, you can visit my blog at www.monishmenon.wordpress.com

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