Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola hailed Lionel Messi after the Argentinian took a starring role in last night's UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg win over Real Madrid.
Messi scored both goals in the 2-0 victory at the Bernabeu, the second of which was a brilliant individual effort, to take his tally to an astonishing 52 in all competitions for Barca this season. It also saw him move up to third in Barca's all-time list of record goalscorers with 179 strikes, leaving him behind only Cesar Rodriguez (235) and Ladislau Kubala (194).
Speaking after the match, Guardiola said of Messi and his memorable second goal: "It's not the first time he's done that, he has a wonderful ability to take players on. He's become the club's third highest goalscorer at just 23 and at a 100-year-old club, it's absolutely incredible. We are lucky to have him."
Guardiola did warn, however, against assuming the tie was now over following the result. "We haven't made it to the final yet, this is the first leg match," he said. "A team that has nine European Cups never gives up on a tie. We are two games and one draw from being European champions. We will think about the return so we can get to Wembley.
"We are a step away from the final, but we will carry on respecting Madrid, very, very much. If we start to believe we are already through, Madrid can punish us. We don't believe we are already there (Wembley). We played a very good match and I would like to congratulate the team."