Gianluigi Buffon finally conceded against Lionel Messi, and then it happened again, as Barcelona put on a show of strength to beat Juventus 3-0.
Despite plundering Champions League goals for 12 year Messi has drawn blanks against the Italian great in two Champions League quarter-finals as well as the 2015 final, given another opportunity to end that run little genius did not waste it.
Messi netted in both halves in this comfortable win and with Ivan Rakitic also scoring Barcelona never looked like slipping up.
The first goal was a goal born of Barcelona’s new Neymar-less forward line. Ousmane Dembele played the ball in from the right and Messi found Luis Suarez on the edge of the area.
The Uruguayan had struggled with his touch in the opening period but he found it at just the right time with a cushioned lay-off back into Messi’s path and Barca’s all-time top scorer did the rest sweeping the ball into Buffon’s left-hand corner to leave the 39-year-old rooted to the spot.
It was reward for Messi’s industrious first half and for Dembele’s endeavours too. A lot has been made of what Barcelona will miss with Neymar’s departure but one thing they seem to have gained is pace.
The Brazilian was no slouch but Dembele and new full-back Nelson Semedo behind were up and down like bullet trains in the first half as Barcelona did their best to unlock Juventus’ defence.
Juventus had their chances too. Mattia De Sciglio, Paulo Dybala and Miralem Pjanic all testing Marc Andre ter Stegen. Barcelona might have doubled their lead with a great run from Andres Iniesta zig-zagging through the middle of Juventus defence but when Blaise Matuidi brought him down Messi could only hit the wall with the free-kick.
At the other end, Douglas Costa made a diagonal run and scooped the ball up for Rodrigo Bentancur but his effort was blocked. Then Dybala played in Gonzalo Higuain but Ter Stegen saved again.
For Juventus Buffon had spent the last 15 minutes of the first period as spectator but as someone once said it only takes a second to score a goal, and with Messi it doesn’t even take as long as that. He got the first and Barcelona deserved their half-time lead.
Messi almost scored again at the start of the second half from Jordi Alba’s pass. The shot hit Buffon’s post and then the keeper before cannoning out of play. Messi has now hit the post five times so far this season.
He was very much the story of the game now and he was soon being booked and setting up the second in the space of 60 seconds.
First he got a push from Pjanic. He signalled for the referee to show a yellow card and he also put his hand on the match official’s shoulder. The referee booked Messi instead of the Juventus man.
Messi was fuming at the decision but it was Juventus who paid the price. He sprinted down the right and when his cross was cleared as far as Rakitic the Croatian did well to keep his shot down to score the second.
The third came on 69 minutes. Messi found Buffon’s left-hand corner again. It was one of those diagonal runs that is always destined to end one way. Dembele played his part with a fine decoy run.
Messi scored his first Champions League goal back in 2005. He is still going. Only Raul with 15, has scored in more consecutive Champions Leagues. Messi now has 96 goals in the competition in 116 games. And in his fourth game against him, he can finally count Buffon among his victims.