Lionel Messi scored five goals as Champions League holders Barcelona destroyed unfortunate Bayer Leverkusen to confirm their place in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Barca had been understated but superior in the first leg in Germany, winning 3-1, and were expected to ease through in tonight’s return match.
However, they played with trademark hunger under Pep Guardiola as Messi became the first player to score five in a single Champions League game while substitute Cristian Tello added two in a performance of startling brilliance.
Karim Bellarabi managed a consolation in added time.
Leverkusen had travelled to Catalonia in confident mood after winning their third straight Bundesliga game at the weekend.
A 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich has boosted the club’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League again next season, but despite being heavy underdogs to progress to the last eight, they had not fully given up on remaining in the competition a little longer this year.
But they were hanging on in the 10th minute as Barca suddenly burst forward. Messi’s run into the box saw him meet Cesc Fabregas’ sublime lofted ball and only a sharp reflex save by Bernd Leno stopped them opening the scoring, before Gonzalo Castro blocked Pedro’s shot on the rebound.
Source: ESPN Soccernet