Lionel Messi lived up to the pre-game billing given to him by Pep Guardiola to spoil his former coach’s Camp Nou return as Barcelona beat Bayern Munich 3-0 in their UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg.
Wednesday’s encounter in Catalonia marked the first time since his departure from Barca in 2012 that Guardiola had met the team he led to 14 major trophies in four years.
Guardiola had branded Messi “unstoppable” in the build-up to the game and his words proved prophetic as Messi dismantled Bayern with two spectacular late goals.
Having seen Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer frustrate Barca for much of the encounter, the two sides looked set to head back to the Allianz Arena next week with the tie finely poised at 0-0.
But Messi, playing in his 100th European game, produced another sparkling display of his undeniable brilliance to put Barca in command, breaking the deadlock with a rasping 77th-minute opener.
And the Argentina forward doubled his tally three minutes later with a superb solo goal before an injury-time third from Neymar effectively ended the tie as Barca went some way to gaining a measure of revenge for the 7-0 aggregate loss to Bayern at the same stage two years ago.