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'Fantasy' Lionel Messi sets another milestone with 100th Champions League goal

Even Antonio Conte had to smile Wednesday after witnessing the Champions League brilliance of Lionel Messi.The...

Posted: Mar 16, 2018 12:01 AM

Even Antonio Conte had to smile Wednesday after witnessing the Champions League brilliance of Lionel Messi.

The Chelsea manager -- usually stern and no-nonsense -- hugged the Barcelona genius with a smile indeed on his face after Messi single-handedly sent the Premier League side out of the competition.

Lionel Messi nets 100th Champions League goal

Joins Cristiano Ronaldo as lone players to get to 100

Messi scores twice as Barcelona beat Chelsea 3-0 to reach quarterfinals

Quarterfinal draw to take place Friday

READ: Mourinho criticized after Manchester United exit

If the Italian didn't divulge what he said to Messi, he couldn't contain himself in lavishing praise on the Argentine in his post-match media conference after the Barcelona star scored twice and set up another in their 3-0 win at the Camp Nou that saw the La Liga outfit make the quarterfinals 4-1 on aggregate.

In doing so Messi became only the second player to score 100 goals in the Champions League or European Cup, joining his Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo who is on 117.

"This type of player is born once every 50 years," Conte told reporters. "We are talking about one single player with this capacity, with his ability, with these skills. He's fantastic.

"It was a fantasy player who has pushed Barcelona through to the next round. He was responsible for the result."

And in comments that are sure to disappoint the 30-year-old Messi's many club suitors, the former Italian international added: "He's a player who can change the final result for any team he is playing in but he started to play with Barcelona and for sure he will finish his career in Barcelona.

"Many teams can hope to have him in their team but it won't be possible. This is a great story for Barcelona and Messi."

Messi writes story

Wednesday's story was penned by Messi early.

He netted the 601st and fastest goal of his career at the 2:08 mark when he beat Thibaut Courtois through the legs from a tight angle with his non-dominant right leg.

Courtois is considered one of the world's top keepers and the Belgian admitted afterward it was a shot he should have stopped. Chelsea's task was thus made even more difficult.

Messi's pacy run and vision set up Ousmane Dembele in the 20th minute to realistically finish the tie and the Argentine reached his Champions League century by beating Courtois through the legs again in the 63rd -- 13 years after his debut goal in the competition against Panathinaikos.

"I'm happy to have reached 100 goals in such a beautiful competition but the important thing was to move forward in a difficult match against a team with lots of really good players," Messi, who became a father for the third time last weekend, was quoted as saying by Marca.

"We managed to score early and this was important."

Often seen as a pro Real Madrid newspaper, Marca also acknowledged the Argentine's brilliance.

"Messi destroyed the knockout with his dominating play, intervening with surgical precision when it was necessary," it wrote. "He waited for his moment, acted on it and thumped Chelsea, which conceded goals when it played best.

"Despite the blue resistance, with a tireless Willian, there's no way to beat Bar-a when Messi decides to play."

Given all the comparisons between Messi and Ronaldo over the years, social media was again abuzz as the debate surfaced as to who was the better player.

Rio Ferdinand -- who played alongside Ronaldo at Manchester United and was part of the United side that lost to Barcelona's Messi in the 2011 Champions League final -- highlighted what he thought the difference was between the pair.

Draw Friday

"The difference between them is that Cristiano goes out there and just says 'Give me the ball in areas where I can score a goal' -- he's a goalscorer," Ferdinand, now a pundit with BT Sport in the UK, said.

"He is not bothered about being on the halfway line and the rhythm of the game, he wants to be on the knife edge of the game.

"Whereas Messi, you sometimes see him in the defensive midfielder position, picking up the ball, playing one-twos, just playing with the opposition and biding his time.

"He's involved in the rhythm of the game constantly."

Largely thanks to Messi, Barcelona heads into Friday's quarterfinal draw as the second-favorite in the competition behind Manchester City according to British oddsmaker William Hill.

READ: Meet the footballer with a prosthetic arm

Visit our football page for more football stories

Spain leads the way with three representatives in Barcelona, Real Madrid -- the two-time defending champion -- and Sevilla. Italy has two (Juventus, Roma) along with England (Manchester City, Liverpool) while Germany's Bayern Munich completes the field.

But there is only one Messi.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 263023

Reported Deaths: 5752
CountyCasesDeaths
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Harrison14224204
Rankin11167219
Jackson10839190
Lee9050144
Madison8568168
Jones6668114
Forrest6177124
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Clay165837
Tallahatchie156235
Stone151425
Clarke147262
Calhoun140822
Smith129226
Yalobusha122034
Walthall114337
Greene113529
Noxubee112926
Montgomery111636
Carroll106622
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Kemper80520
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Franklin69917
Choctaw63213
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45117
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 439442

Reported Deaths: 6657
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson644371007
Mobile31435569
Madison28158217
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Montgomery19873332
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Lee13137107
Morgan12594142
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Walker6028183
Jackson599145
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Blount546286
Autauga535862
Coffee460764
Dale409685
Franklin374150
Russell354215
Chilton344373
Covington338580
Escambia334544
Tallapoosa3143109
Dallas312996
Chambers303470
Clarke298036
Pike262431
Lawrence253355
Marion253161
Winston233342
Bibb222348
Geneva210247
Marengo208231
Pickens199531
Hale184944
Barbour180538
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Butler173160
Cherokee165131
Henry159525
Monroe152021
Randolph145536
Washington141727
Clay129746
Crenshaw123745
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Cleburne121525
Lamar119922
Lowndes114836
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Bullock103328
Perry99918
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