Lionel Messi played his 400th game against Levante last night in the Catalan giant’s first leg draw in La Copa del Rey, but ceded all glory to young star Cristian Tello, who snatched a hat-trick, courtesy of the Argentine.
It was as if Messi stood back and thought ‘tonight’s not going to be my night in front of goal, so I’ll help Tello out’. And help out he did! Messi became Xavi for a night and provided the assist for 22 year-old Tello’s 3 goals.
Many fans thought that El Zhar’s goal on 31 minutes might leave some egg on Barça’s face as the teams went into the break with Levante leading. After the break it was Juanfran who scored in his own net because of a misunderstanding with teammate Vyntra. Tello came skipping down the left side but couldn’t quite get enough power on the ball to bother Jiménez who parried the ball out to Vyntra who tried to clear but only managed to hit Juanfran and see the ball rebound into his own net. A bit harsh, but football’s like that.
After that misfortune, Barça then found the net three times via Tello to seal a hat-trick for the young man and victory for the Catalans. Messi provided all assists that ended in Tello’s goals, even the one that ended up in an own goal.
The game started to look like the La Liga’s outing on Sunday with Levante like a strong wall at the back, thwarting everything that Barcelona could throw at it. When the Catalans went one nil down, it looked like being a tougher game than at first thought. But after Juanfran and Vyntra’s faux pas in the six yard box, the Levante wall came tumbling down.
Tello’s goals were all similar in the making. A sublime pass from Messi ended with Tello beating the Levante defense and finding the net. Last night, it was Messi’s turn to let others feed off him.