Messi hails Ronaldo’s Champs League hat-trick

Lionel Messi saluted Cristiano Ronaldo’s efforts from the previous night after producing a superb display of his own in Barcelona’s thrashing of Lyon on Wednesday.

Messi scored two goals and set up two more at the Nou Camp as Barca triumphed 5-1 against the French side in their Champions League last-16 second leg, three weeks on from leg one ending goalless.

On Tuesday, his old rival Ronaldo’s hat-trick secured Juventus a 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid for a 3-2 victory on aggregate.

Messi was quoted by Marca as saying after the Lyon game: “What Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus did was impressive.

“I thought Atletico Madrid would be tougher. Ronaldo had a magical night with three goals.”

Regarding Friday’s (today) draw for the quarter and semi-finals, Messi added: “All of the opponents are complicated.

“Ajax (who beat Real Madrid in the last 16), for example, showed that they’re an amazing team of youngsters and they don’t fear anyone.

“It’ll be difficult no matter who we face. We have to prepare ourselves for a tough challenge.”

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde was quoted as saying in his post-match press conference: “We’re all very focused on this competition and Messi is too. He played an incredible match.”

Valverde also echoed Messi’s sentiments with regard to the draw.

“It’s impossible to look at just one team,” he said. “We’ve all done well to get through. We’ll see who we will play, but any opponent will be complicated.”

Messi opened the scoring with a 17th-minute Panenka-style penalty, and Philippe Coutinho then made it 2-0 just after the half-hour mark.

Lucas Tousart pulled a goal back for Lyon in the 58th minute, before Messi added his second in the 78th and then teed up Gerard Pique and substitute Ousmane Dembele.

Luis Suarez won the penalty when he went down in the area when challenged by Jason Denayer. Referee Szymon Marciniak pointed to the spot and Messi then coolly converted after the incident was checked by VAR.

Marca reported that Suarez said in an interview with Movistar Plus: “I think I accidentally stepped on him (Denayer) and I think that unbalanced me a little. The referee can decide to give it or not.”

Meanwhile, Lyon boss Bruno Genesio described Messi as a “genius.”

Genesio said in quotes on his club’s official website: “I saw a first period where we suffered a lot. Barca put enormous pressure on us, which we did not know how to answer.

“In the second half, we had a better time. We were able to recover the ball higher, posed problems and reduced the score.

“Unfortunately, Barca scored their third goal at that moment. It hurt us a lot and it boosted Barca’s spirits.

“When Messi is at such a level, he is almost unstoppable. He is one of the best players of all time, a genius.”

– PA Sport

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