Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Messi Club WC brace puts Neymar in his place

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BARCELONA: The Club World Cup final between Barcelona and Santos was billed as a showdown between Lionel Messi and Neymar, but the Argentine wizard put the young upstart firmly in his place.

Messi, widely acknowledged as the best player in the world, bagged an exquisite brace as the European champions strolled to a 4-0 victory in Japan to claim the annual intercontinental crown for a second time in three years.

In contrast the young Brazilian, who at 19 is five years Messi’s junior, suffered a wretched evening, making a hash of a header that would have given his side a glimmer of hope and failing to score when through on goal.

“Barcelona are far above Santos. I have nothing to say,” said the disgruntled teenage talisman after Santos were well beaten by a superior Barcelona. “I must accept the result. It was a great lesson for me.”

Messi was as delighted as his younger opponent was disappointed.

“We set out to be the world’s number ones and I’m rejoicing in this title with my teammates,” he said after Sunday’s triumph.

“I’m happy as I scored, just like I did at our last Club World Cup final against Estudiantes (in 2009 when Barcelona won in extra-time). I’m more happy about the fact that we played well as a team.”

Muricy Ramalho, the Santos coach, said there was no doubt who the best player in the world was—but that would change.

“Messi is the best, there’s no question about that,” he said, when asked whether Messi’s performance, which included a cheeky backheel on the way to one of the goals, proved the diminutive Argentine was unrivalled.

“He’s been building up to be the best player for many years, but Neymar is improving and in the future he will be the best.”

A packed house at the 70,000 International Stadium in Yokohama cheered every time Neymar and Messi touched the ball.But Neymar’s finishing—unlike Messi’s—was wayward and he squandered two good chances for his team. (Agencies)

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