Friday, September 29, 2023

Lionel Messi’s favourite goal saw him beat towering Manchester United defence and win the Champions League

Lionel Messi scored 507 goals for Barcelona, but there’s one that stands out as a personal favourite.

The 36-year-old put the final jewel in his football career crown in December, winning the World Cup for the first time at Qatar 2022.

Messi placed 778 games for Barca, but one moment stood out for himAFP

He added it to his numerous honours before going on to sign for Inter Miami this summer.

Messi has collected 44 trophies during his career, making him the most decorated player of all time.

Amongst that long list of honours are four Champions Leagues, with Messi scoring 129 goals in the competition for Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain – 120 for Barca – giving him the seond highest tally in the tournament, 11 behind Cristiano Ronaldo.

But amongst the goals netted for Barca in the competition, Messi revealed the one which sticks out in his mind as his favourite – his goal against Manchester United in the UCL final.

Alex Ferguson’s side fell to the Catalan giants in 2009 as Samuel Eto’o and Messi both scored on the way to lifting the trophy.

But aside from the Argentine sealing the Champions League win, it was the nature of the goal that made it even more incredible.

At 5ft 7in, Messi has scored just 26 headers in his career and, in that final, it was his head, rather than his magic left foot, that secured the victory.

As Man United searched for another goal, they were left wanting in defence and a weak clearance from Edwin van der Sar was cut out by Carles Puyol.

He played the ball to Eto’o on the right side of the penalty area and the ball broke to Xavi on the edge of the area.

From there he crossed for Messi, who rose to send a looping header over the United goalkeeper and into the far side of the goal.

Messi didn’t let his height stop him from scoring at the Champions League finalGetty

It was Messi’s second Champions League medalGetty

Speaking to Four Four Two in 2017, Messi said: “It was hard to imagine that I’d have a chance to score a header with a defender like Ferdinand near me, but I saw that I didn’t have anyone marking me and the ball settled down so I could make the shot.

“When the ball Xavi put in was in the box, I could already see myself scoring and thank God it was possible”, the star said.

Although he still picked up a winners medal, 18-year-old Messi missed the 2006 final against Arsenal due to a hamstring injury.

But it turns out missing that showdown made the header against Man United ever sweeter.

“It was a very important goal in every way: for the team, for the way that final was being played and for me. It’s one of my favourite goals,” he said.

“After missing the 2006 final through injury, it was very special to play this final and score. It completed a season in which we won everything.”

Man United legend Rio Ferdinand, who was outfoxed by the Argentine for the goal, has admitted he’s still haunted by the moment.

“It’s something which has haunted me for years. I cannot believe we are talking about this now,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.

“I gambled on Xavi not being able to beat me at the front post. I thought the quality wouldn’t quite be there. You’ve got to know your players.

“But no, the best players rise to the big occasions and Messi has done that time and time again.”

Barca also won LaLiga and the Spanish Cup that year, with Messi scoring 38 goals in all competitions that term.

He’s currently still firing them in for Inter Miami, scoring 11 in as many appearances.

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