Lionel Messi ran riot through Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City defence as though it was a playground game, according to Barcelona coach Luis Enrique as he savoured a dazzling 4-0 Champions League win.
Inspired by Messi’s hat-trick, Barcelona joined Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint Germain in registering important wins on Wednesday night.
The Argentine genius was hailed for his composure after a month out with a groin injury.
Before 96,290 people at Camp Nou, Messi picked up on one City mistake on 17 minutes and added two more — one brilliantly curled in — in the second half after City keeper Carlos Bravo was sent off.
“We have seen the calm that Messi has to finish inside the area as if he was in the school yard,” said Enrique.
“If there is anything you can expect of Messi it is that. It doesn’t matter how many days he has been out or the games he has missed.”
Messi was “phenomenal,” added Barcelona defender Samuel Umtitei.
“There will never be anyone like him. It is incredible what he did,” added fellow defender Lucas Digne.
While Guardiola was adamant he would not change his style of pressing from the back, the former Barcelona coach is now under pressure with City second in group C, five points behind leaders Barcelona and just one ahead of Borussia Moenchengladbach.
“Until the last day I am a coach I will try to play from the goalkeeper,” said Guardiola.
“It is always difficult to play in Barcelona with 11 players and with 10 the game was over,” added Guardiola.
“We created enough chances, we arrive at the byline many times, but with their strikers when they arrive they punish you.”
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