BARCELONA (AP) ― 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.”
The last time a player scored five goals in European soccer’s top club competition had been when Ajax’s Soren Lerby did it against Omonia in the old Champion Clubs’ Cup in 1979-80.
“Messi is a joke. For me the best ever,” Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney wrote on Twitter.
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 yards. On the second he cut across from the right after a pass from Andres Iniesta and sent a left-footed shot in from 14 yards through a crowd of defenders.
He scored the third with a chip from 9 yards 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 yards.
He has 48 goals for Barcelona this season, including 12 in the Champions League. He increased his Champions League career total to 49, tying Alfredo Di Stefano for fourth on the European Cup/Champions League career list.
“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.”
Just 24 years old, he has 228 goals for Barcelona and is seven from tying Cesar Rodriguez for the club’s career scoring record. Messi has seven hat tricks this season.
Jermain Defoe took advantage of a rare start to score twice in a 3-1 victory over third-tier Stevenage that advanced Tottenham to the FA Cup quarterfinals.
Joel Byrom’s penalty kick put the visitors ahead in the fourth minute of the fifth-round replay, but Defoe tied it in the 26th with a left-footed shot from outside the penalty area. Emmanuel Adebayor converted a penalty kick to put Spurs ahead in the 54th, and Defoe got his second goal in the 75th.
Juventus was held to a costly 1-1 draw at Bologna, giving AC Milan the advantage in the race for the Serie A title.
Bologna’s 35-year-old captain, Marco Di Vaio, put the hosts ahead in the 17th minute.