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Friday, March 9, 2012

Magical Messi scores five goals in CL victory


BARCELONA, Spain — For all the astonishing feats in his young career, Lionel Messi had never scored five goals in a professional game. And no one had ever scored five times in a Champions League match.

Well, check both of those off.

With another mesmerizing performance, Messi helped defending champion Barcelona crush Bayer Leverkusen 7-1 Wednesday night to advance to the quarterfinals with a 10-2 aggregate win.

"Without Messi, Barca is the best team," Leverkusen coach Robin Dutt said. "And with him, they are in another galaxy."

The three-time FIFA player of the year scored in the 25th, 42nd and 49th minutes for a 3-0 lead and his 17th career hat trick for Barcelona, then added goals in the 58th and 84th minutes for the first five-goal game of his professional career.

"We'll never see a player like him again," Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. "He is one of a kind."

Messi scored his first goal when Xavi Hernandez's long pass sent him in alone, he took a touch and chipped goalkeeper Bernd Leno with his left foot from 12 meters.

On the second he cut across from the right after a pass from Andres Iniesta and sent a left-footed shot in from 14 meters through a crowd of defenders.

He scored the third with a chip from 9 meters off his weaker right foot. Cesc Fabregas made a pass from just past midfield and Messi held off defender Daniel Schwaab as he took three touches.

He became the first player to score four goals twice in the Champions League — he accomplished the feat against Arsenal two years ago — when Leno batted a ball knocked toward the goal by a defender right to Messi, who poked the ball in with his left foot from an angle.

Messi's fifth was on a curling left-footed shot from 19 meters.

"I can't remember the last time I scored five goals, so I'm very happy," Messi said. "It's nice to score five goals."

Nadeshiko fall in final


FARO, Portugal — Celia Okoyino da Mbabi scored a hat trick as Germany brought women's world champion Japan crashing back to earth with a thrilling 4-3 win to capture the Algarve Cup on Wednesday.

Two goals in the space of two minutes midway through the first half from Dzsenifer Maroszan and Okoyino da Mbabi put the Germans in control against the Japanese, who came into the match buoyed by a 1-0 win over the United States on Monday in a rerun of the Women's World Cup final.

Nahomi Kawasaumi pulled one back with a clinical strike 10 minutes before the break and halftime substitute Asuna Tanaka struck from close range, but Okoyino da Mbabi looked to have sealed victory with her second goal of the game from the penalty spot in the 88th minute.

Japan was not done and Yuki Nagasato capitalized on a defensive mixup to level in stoppage time, only for Okoyino da Mbabi to wrap up the win and with a well-taken third.

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