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Bayern Munich have been so strong this season and Barcelona so ragged that it is unlikely that a fit Messi could have altered the outcome of their semi-final, which the Germans won 7-0 on aggregate. However it might have been closer and even though Barcelona's campaign ended with a hamstrung Messi sitting stone-faced on the bench as Bayern strolled around Camp Nou as if they owned the place, the little Argentinian still gave us some magical moments to savour. Not least his delicious first goal in the 4-0 win over Milan. Barcelona had lost the first leg 2-0 but the return was only five minutes old when Messi played a one-two with Xavi, opened up his body and then feathered a shot into the top corner with his left foot, finding the tiniest of gaps between Philippe Mexès and Cristián Zapata. Milan's goalkeeper Christian Abbiati could not really be blamed for simply standing, watching and admiring.
There will be people who question whether Oscar meant it and it is perhaps because it was such a counterintuitive piece of skill to escape Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Pirlo that these doubts exist. Accepting a pass from Ashley Cole with his back to goal, he produced a beautiful turn away from both players, sending them off towards the Fulham Road in search of the ball, but it was a move that seemed to take him away from goal and into traffic. It was that element of surprise that threw Juventus and onlookers, but we have seen enough of Oscar since then to place our trust in him and the finish that followed, curled high into Gigi Buffon's top-left corner from 25 yards, was a work of art.
The ball has just awkwardly bounced a few yards off the turf and you have your back to goal. What should you do? Should you: a) keep it simple and play the way you are facing; or b) open up a miserly defence with a wondrous backheel through to your striker? If you answered a) then you are dead inside and if you answered b) then you are Marco Reus – congratulations. That, of course, was the option Reus took during Borussia Dortmund's quarter-final against Málaga, releasing Lewandowski, who rounded Willy Caballero to score.
Even Sir Alex Ferguson had to applaud this header by the former Manchester United forward. "The leap, the spring, the way he held himself in the air," he gushed. "What a header. I blamed Patrice Evra for his goal at first for not challenging – then I saw the replay and I felt a bit stupid. On the replay, Ronaldo's knee is about as high as Evra's head." Ronaldo soared so high from Angel Di María's pinpoint cross that you could not have been blamed for trying to look for the invisible strings lifting him into the air and his header gave David de Gea, in inspired form that night, no chance.
Lewandowski again. But this goal was about him. He had already twice finished coolly to give Dortmund a commanding lead in their semi-final but the goal for his hat-trick was a stunner. A loose ball fell to him in the area and while other strikers might have panicked under the pressure, he simply rolled the ball under his right foot, away from the Madrid defenders and then smashed it into Diego López's top-left corner.
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