Enrique hails special Messi, Guardiola refuses to blame players for defeat

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique says Lionel Messi a player from another dimension as he inspires Catalans to 3-0 win over Bayern Munich, Pep Guardiola philosphical in defeat

BARCELONA, SPAIN (MAY 06, 2015) (REUTERS) – Two late moments of Lionel Messi magic and a goal from Neymar helped Barcelona break the resistance of Bayern Munich in a pulsating 3-0 victory in their Champions League semi-final first leg at the Nou Camp on Wednesday (May 6).

After Barca had been frustrated by the brilliance of Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for most of the match, Messi fired home after 77 minutes and then doubled the lead with a delightful chip from six metres three minutes later.

Neymar completed a resounding late burst from the hosts when he raced clear and slotted calmly home in stoppage time.

Coach Luis Enrique praised his team for their performance against tough opponents.

“It is not only Leo. We are used to see Leo doing wonders. It is a pleasure to see him play. You guys only see him once a week or every three days, but we see him every day. And he is a player of another dimension. But apart from his attacking skills, have a look at how much he has added in defense and how much the other strikers, midfielders and defenders have added. If we hadn’t been a team today, we would not have had a chance against Bayern,” he told reporters at a news conference after the match.

“The Champions League semifinals against a unique rival. It was very complicated and very hard, but we were not expecting anything far from what we have seen: a hard game in which both teams tried to pressure and bother each other every time they didn’t have the ball, and tried to create chances when they had it.”

Barca have evolved this season under Enrique into a team that is less concerned with maintaining possession and more in the individual talent of their forwards.

The Catalan side are now within touching distance of the final in Berlin, which will be held on June 6, and Enrique said they would keep their attacking strategy in the second leg.

“No, we will not speculate with the result. We will go for a win in the second leg, putting them in as much trouble as possible,” he said.

Meanwhile it was a disappointing evening for Bayern coach Pep Guardiola on his return to his former club.

He had warned before the game that it was impossible to stop his former prodigy Messi and it proved the case as the Argentine orchestrated Barcelona’s emphatic victory.

Bayern had plenty of the ball in the second half but it was then that Barca’s counter-attacks proved decisive.

For Bayern it was a frustrating night as they were less than 15 minutes from gaining a draw to take back with them to Germany.

“Obviously they were stronger. We wanted to control the ball but that is not easy when you play at Barcelona. You can only control them when you play deep and wide or take the ball from them,” Guardiola stated.

“I have nothing bad to say to my players. Not even for those things that were not perfect. The team has been in a very difficult situation this year and I can only thank them. I will always remember this stage of the season, these three months, with great satisfaction. The result obviously hurts. We knew who we were playing, a team that is at a great level at the moment and knowing that the only way to attack and defend in football is through the ball.”