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Ronaldinho scores the goals, Messi takes the plaudits
September 28, 2005 15:52 IST
Although Ronaldinho scored a hat-trick in Barcelona's 4-1 victory over Udinese, it was the club's Argentine youngster Lionel Messi who attracted the biggest cheer of the night from the Nou Camp faithful.
During another glittering performance in the Champions League the 18-year-old forward provided yet more evidence to support the comparisons being drawn with the great Diego Maradona.
Messi created Barca's first scoring chance when he skipped across the edge of the area and forced a fine save from Udinese keeper Morgan Di Sanctis.
Four minutes later he was brought down just outside the area by a desperate Jose Vidigal after he had surged through the Udinese midfield to win the free kick from which Ronaldinho gave Barcelona the lead.
The youngster also had a hand in Barca's second, winning the ball in midfield and slipping a superb pass down the right flank to Samuel Eto'o who cut the ball back into the area for Ronaldinho to steer into the corner.
During the 70 minutes he was on the pitch Messi delighted the Nou Camp with a superb all-round performance.
His confidence, speed off the mark and stunning close control made him a constant menace to the Udinese defence, while he demonstrated an almost telepathic understanding with Ronaldinho.
The 75,000 Barca fans gathered at the Nou Camp rewarded Messi with a standing ovation for his performance when was replaced by Andres Iniesta midway through the second half.
"He showed what a talented player he is once again and demonstrated his dynamism, pace and acceleration," said Barca coach Frank Rijkaard. "He's still very young but he's already doing lots of good things for the team."
The club's sporting director Txiki Begiristain echoed the Dutchman's comments.
"He's got real character," he said. "He's a very special lad and always has been and was made to play in a big club."
Although he has played in the Champions League for Barcelona, Messi has not been permitted to play in the Primera Liga because the club has already filled its permitted quota of three non-European Union players.
But the news that he was granted Spanish citizenship on Monday means that he will now be able to showcase his skills in the domestic league as well.