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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Gerard Pique: Pep Guardiola is right - Messi is unstoppable

Barcelona's Gerard Pique celebrates after Neymar scores their third goal
Barcelona's Gerard Pique celebrates after Neymar scores their third goal

Gerard Pique paid tribute to Lionel Messi after the Argentinian magician masterminded Barcelona's 3-0 trouncing of Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.

Messi inspired a stunning late show to secure the victory by scoring a brace and also setting up another to make it a miserable return to the Nou Camp for former Barca boss Pep Guardiola.

In the run up to the Champions League semi-final first leg Guardiola said he would have no special plans to deal with Messi, saying he was "just too good" to be stopped, and Pique felt Messi's performance proved him right.

"Guardiola was right, I knew that if Messi is inspired no player can stop him," he is quoted as saying by Marca.

Messi opened the scoring in the 77th minute with a fine shot from distance to break Manuel Neuer's sterling resistance, but his second goal three minutes later was truly special.

First the four-time Ballon d'Or winner twisted and turned Bayern defender Jerome Boateng so much that the German international ended up flat on the floor, before audaciously chipping the on-rushing Neuer with his less-favoured right foot.

It was a moment that those from within the football world and beyond stood up to savour, with an avalanche of tributes flooding Twitter afterwards.

Former Holland and Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert tweeted: "He really is from a different Planet #Messi even if u are supporting another team u have to admit this."

Gary Lineker added: "It's such a joy to watch Messi. The greatest!"

Barca striker Luis Suarez also got in the act, posting an image of himself and Messi grinning from ear-to-ear in their changing room on the social media site, saying: "Come on!! What a good win and hard work of the whole team!!!! I leave a picture with the best in the world."

Guardiola felt the stuffing was taken out of his side by the first goal and was quick to stress that their defeat was not solely down to Messi's efforts.

"Not only Leo. The club is very good team. They're fine. They're very solid. Obviously I will not say what I think of Messi. All are very good," he told Marca. "The best way to control them is to participate as little as possible and for that we must have the ball. We tried, but the situation of players we have, we have imbalances."

His opposite number and former Barca team-mate Luis Enrique was also keen to praise his team as a whole, adding: "It certainly is a perfect result, that brings us very close to the final. I am very satisfied with the game."

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