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Friday, Dec. 7, 2012

Barca superstar Messi injured against Benfica

AP

BARCELONA, Spain — Lionel Messi was carried off with a knee injury as Barcelona was held to 0-0 by Benfica at the Nou Camp in the Champions League on Wednesday.

News photo
Banged up: Lionel Messi is carried off after injuring his knee during Barca's draw with Benfica on Wednesday. AP

Messi had a bone bruise to his left knee, the club said after scans.

"The feeling is that it isn't more serious than a knock," Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova said.

Messi, who went on as a reserve in the 58th minute, collided with Benfica goalkeeper Artur in the 85th and was in obvious pain clutching his knee when he fell to the turf after weakly attempting a chipped shot.

As Messi dribbled into the box, Artur made contact with the forward to silence the Camp Nou crowd, which is not used to seeing the star injured.

"Let's hope it's nothing serious and that he can soon be with us back to 100 percent," captain Carles Puyol said.

Messi has scored 84 times in 2012 to be only one short of tying Gerd Mueller's 40-year-old record for most goals in a calendar year.

Vilanova said Messi always prefers to play and isn't focused on Mueller's record.

"Had we been worried just about the record we would have played Messi right from the beginning," Vilanova said. "But we had talked about it and decided to bring him on with half an hour to play."

Benfica looked the sharper side in the first half, while Barcelona dominated in the second. Barcelona had already qualified for the knockout phase in top spot from Group G.

"It was a game in which it was clear that we wanted to win even though we started with many young players," Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara said.



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