Lionel Messi broke a tie with Cristiano Ronaldo as his eighth Champions League treble made him the most prolific hat-trick scorer in the competition’s history, and Ernesto Valverde hailed him for “making the extraordinary routine” after Barcelona’s 4-0 win over PSV.
The Argentina superstar had been level with Ronaldo, but lit up Camp Nou with an incredible performance in Tuesday’s Group B encounter.
Barca had struggled for the opening half hour, but a vintage Messi free-kick broke the deadlock and, after a wonderful individual effort from Ousmane Dembele, he scored twice in the final 13 minutes, which also saw Samuel Umtiti sent off.
He now has 48 hat-tricks in his remarkable career, and has netted more Champions League goals than PSV, scoring 103 to their 102, leaving Valverde to lavish praise on the 31-year-old.
“Messi is normal because we always see it,” Valverde said to the Champions League TV channel. “In any of us it would be abnormal, but he does extraordinary things and makes them routine.”
8 – Lionel Messi has scored more hat-tricks than any other player in Champions League/European Cup history. Mesmeric. pic.twitter.com/7kbEUCk8bb
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 18, 2018
On the free-kick, he added: “We needed to unclog the match. It was masterful.
“It was difficult to make the first goal, in the second half we started well, dominating the game, but at 1-0 there was danger, with the second goal we were calmer.”
Real Madrid have won the Champions League in each of the last three seasons.
Asked about Barca’s desire to end the dominance of their arch rivals and win the competition themselves, he said: “Who is not motivated for the Champions League? There are only six games [in the group stage] and we know the importance of each one.”
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