UCL Highlights, Recap: Messi breaks UCL goalscoring record, more

IMAGE, FCBARCELONA.COM

By MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer 

Lionel Messi is now the top UEFA Champions League goalscorer of all time — and he didn’t just surpass Raul for the record — the Argentinean did it in style with a hat-trick over APOEL.

After Luis Suarez opened the scoring at the 27th minute mark in the 4-0 victory, the spotlight turned emphatically in Messi’s direction once more. In the 38th minute, Messi scored the record-breaking goal – his 72nd career goal in the competition – by deflecting a Rafinha Alcantara strike from the top of  box into the back of the net.

He then built upon his scoring record with a chip over APOEL goalkeeper Urko Pardo‘s arm in the 58th minute after being played through by Dani Alves. Messi completed the hat trick just before the final whistle. After some nifty passing by Xavi and Pedro, Messi was able to slot the ball home from six yards out.

While Messi has just jumped out ahead of Raul, it is safe to say that the Argentinean will only widen that gap. Barcelona is assured of the Round of 16, but it will come down to the final day to see if they will take the top spot in Group F or not.

Other Champions League Results

1. Ronaldo equals Raul– While Cristiano Ronaldo is looking up at Messi atop of the scorer’s list in the Champions League, he is looking eye to eye with the former Real Madrid great.

In a 1-0 win over Basel FC, Ronaldo tallied his 71st goal in the competition over his career equaling the mark of Raul — with the Barcelona maestro breaking the record a day before.

The goal came in the 35th minute and may have been one of the easiest for the Portuguese winger. Karim Benzema showed some individual skill as he made space for himself down the left, took it towards the byline and cut the ball back for an easy tap-in for Ronaldo.

With the win, it keeps Real Madrid a perfect five for five in the group stage and the only side to do so.

2. Chelsea thrash Schalke– With a chance to claim top spot in Group G, Schalke hosted Chelsea. They ended up being played off their home pitch with a crushing 5-0 loss.

John Terry opened the scoring in the second minute rising to meet a Cesc Fabregas corner. The Blues wouldn’t look back from there as Willian found the back of the net just before the half hour mark. His low shot beat Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann.

Fabregas was involved in the third goal. His corner saw three Schalke defenders attempt to clear, but doing more harm than good. Jan Kirchoff nodded in past his own goalkeeper a minute before the halftime whistle.

Chelsea completed their rampant performance with two goals in two minutes late in the second half. After a fine pass from Fabregas, Willian squared the ball for Didier Drogba to finish off in the 76th minute. Ramires capped it off with a header from a Drogba cross.

The loss puts Schalke’s qualification in a precarious position. They drop to third in the group and will need a win and Sporting Lisbon to drop points to advance.

3. Liverpool lose lead late in draw– Liverpool had a chance to go equal on points with Basel with a win over Ludogorets. Instead, the Reds had to settle for a draw in Bulgaria.

Dani Abalo gave the home side a surprising lead after just three minutes. Marcelinho‘s initial effort was spilled by Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and Abalo pounced on the rebound. However, it took just five minutes for Liverpool to equalize. Rickie Lambert followed up his goal in the Premier League at the weekend with another for his first in the Champions League. A long ball was floated in that Lambert challenged for, the ball then bounced around the six yard box and Lambert was quickest to react to head in.

The visitors took the lead in the 37th minute through Jordan Henderson. After some fine work by Raheem Sterling, his cross found Henderson;s run at the back post, who beat Ludogorets goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov.

However, unlike the first meeting between the two sides in the group stage, Ludogorets earned at least a point. It came two minutes from time. Wanderson‘s corner was nodded on at the near post by Svetoslav Dyakov and Georgi Terzlev was on hand to head past Mignolet at the far post.

Liverpool can advance with a win in their final game against Basel, while Ludogorets has to secure an incredible victory over Real Madrid to have any chance of keeping their dreams alive.

4. Win and Roma draw bolster Man City chances– Manchester City seemingly found ways not to win in their four previous group stage games. However, against Bayern Munich, they finally found a win to keep their chances of advancing alive in their group finale.

Sergio Aguero once again proved instrumental in a Man City result. He opened the scoring in the 22nd minute from the penalty spot. Mehdi Benatia hauled down Aguero to concede the spot kick and earned himself a red card in the process.

Even with 10 men, Bayern eventually found an equalizer and took the lead shortly after. Xabi Alonso tallied in the 40th minute with a fantastic low free kick. Five minutes later, Robert Lewandowski put the visitors ahead with a header from a Jerome Boateng cross.

However, Aguero secured a stunning victory with two late goals to complete his hat trick. After a giveaway from Alonso, the Argentinean striker drove towards the goal and slotted past Manuel Neuer for the equalizer. He found a winner in the first minute of stoppage time. Boateng failed to clear as Aquero took the ball off him and beat Neuer for the winner.

The win was even more positive for Man City as they are firmly in the reckoning after AS Roma’s draw with CSKA Moscow. Francesco Totti put the Italian side ahead two minutes before the halftime whistle with a superb free-kick. However, Roma couldn’t get over the finish line with all three points and a firm grasp of second in Group E. Vasili Berezutski whipped in a curling cross that missed a teammates head, but bounced past Roma goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis at the far post.

5. Juventus in position to advance– Juventus moved closer to the Round of 16 with a 2-0 win over Malmo in Sweden. At least a draw in their final group game will confirm advancement.

Fernando Llorente gave the Italian side the lead in the 49th minute. After being released by Claudio Marchisio, Llorente rounded Malmo goalkeeper Robin Olsen and rolled the ball into the empty net.

Juventus sealed the win in the 88th minute. Paul Pogba slotted the ball through to Carlos Tevez to cap off an important victory.  

6. And the rest– Atletico Madrid take top honors in Group A with a rout of Olympiacos. Mario Mandzukic tallied the first ever hat trick by an Atleti player in the Champions League.

Raul Garcia opened the scoring from close range in the ninth minute, but from then on Mandzukic took the glean of the spotlight.

The striker’s first came in the 38th minute finished after an error from the Olympiacos defense gifted Mandzukic an easy finish. Mandzukic’s second was another product of a cross in, this time he connected on an Arda Turan cross to head past Roberto in the 62nd minute. He completed his hat trick three minutes later with another headed effort. He nodded Gabi‘s free kick goalwards. Roberto was able to get a hand to it, but was unable to keep it out.

Olympiacos will now need to win and get some help to have any chance of advancing from their group.

Sporting Lisbon moved into second place in Group G with a convincing win over Maribor.

Carlos Mane had a tap-in at the 10 minute mark after a strong individual effort from Jefferson. The lead was doubled when Nani saw an initial shot blocked, but eventually found the back of the net in the 35th minute.

Jefferson then had a bit of misfortune with an own goal in 42nd minute as a Ales Mejac cross came off the Lisbon player and into this own net. However, Sporting would reclaim their two goal advantage in the 65th minute. Islam Slimani volleying home Nani’s headed knock down.

Sporting face Chelsea in their group stage finale needing points to solidify their advancement.

Paris St. Germain remained atop of their group, setting up a showdown with Barcelona in their final group game. They proved too strong for Ajax with a 3-1 win.

Edinson Cavani opened the scoring in the 33rd minute as he finished into an open net after a pass from Ezequiel Lavezzi. Ajax would level in the 67th minute with a fine header from Davy Klaassen, who got down low to connect with Nick Viergever‘s cross.  

PSG than took control and went ahead 12 minutes later. After a pass from Javier PastoreZlatan Ibrahimovic volleyed the ball past Jasper Cillessen. Cavani picked off an errant back pass, rounded Cillessen and fired into the empty net to complete his brace and the victory.

Porto solidified top spot in Group H with a 3-0 win

All three tallies came in the second half with the first through Hector Herrera in the 56th minute. He smashed his shot past BATE goalkeeper Sergei Chernik for the opener. Nine minutes later the lead was doubled. Yacine Brahimi picked out Herrera, who smartly laid the ball off, as Jackson Martinez finished the move. The win was capped off with third goal in the 89th minute. Again Herrera was involved as he found Cristian Tello.

Arsenal advanced out of the group stage for a 15th consecutive time with a win over Borussia Dortmund.

Yaya Sanogo scored his first ever goal for Arsenal in the second minute. After playing a nice exchange with Santi Cazorla, Sanogo slotted between Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller‘s legs. Alexis Sanchez scored in the 57th minute to double the lead with a sparkling effort. After receiving the ball from Cazorla, Sanchez then curled his effort into the bottom right corner.

Arsenal can still claim top spot in the group with a win and Dortmund loss in the final group game.

In a game that mattered little, Anderlecht secured a 2-0 win over Galatasaray.

Chancel Mbemba bagged a brace in the win. He scored his first in the 44th minute with a headed effort at the far post. After Selcuk Inan was sent off for a second yellow in the 83rd minute, Mbemba took advantage three minutes later as he finished from a tight angle.

Bayer Leverkusen may have lost, but by way of Zenit’s win advanced to the next round. Monaco is currently in second, needing a point against Zenit to advance.

Two minutes after being subbed on, Lucas Ocampos scored from close-range after a cross from Nabil Dirar.

Zenit knocked Benfica out with a 1-0 win as well as put themselves right in the thick of things to advance.

Danny scored the winner in the 79th minute. His strike from inside the 18-yard box after a fine pass from Hulk was enough for the Russian side.

A win against Monaco in the final group game will see them through to the next round.

Athletic Bilbao has struggled in the group stage, but they will at least finish with one win. They held on for a 1-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Mikel San Jose finished off Benat‘s teasing cross for the lone goal of the game.

With the loss Shakhtar will not be able to challenge for top spot in Group H, but have advanced to the Round of 16.