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Messi scored his 60th, 61st and 62nd career goals in his 80th Champions League match to help Barcelona make a winning start to its European campaign with a 4-0 victory over Ajax on Wednesday.
Fresh off a second straight drubbing of the once-mighty Barcelona, Bayern Munich was voted the top team in the Associated Press global soccer poll for the sixth straight week.
Art snobs must forgive the analogy, but when Lionel Messi collapsed in pain and fear on the Camp Nou turf clutching the back of his priceless left knee, it felt for a moment as though Leonardo da Vinci had mangled his painting hand just as he was about to apply the final brushstrokes to the Mona Lisa.
The players were more boys than men, not yet 17. But they were furious. Mimicking the ugly behavior of professionals seen on TV, they swarmed around the referee, haranguing him to disallow the goal just scored against them. One player was particularly aggressive, threatening violence. So Nicolas Perron did what any referee should do: He sent him off.
Lionel Messi scored four times to take his season tally to an unprecedented 72 goals and give Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola a 4-0 win over crosstown rival Espanyol in his last home game at Camp Nou on Saturday.
In front of some of the players he molded into one of soccer's greatest teams, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said Friday he will leave at the end of the season and bring to a close a four-year reign of unprecedented success.
Before players he molded into one of the greatest soccer teams of all time, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola stepped down on Friday and closed a four-year reign of unprecedented success.