Lionel Messi Praises Cristiano Ronaldo After The Later's Hat-Trick

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Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has put rivalries to one side and applauded Cristiano Ronaldo for his "magical night" in Turin on Tuesday when Ronaldo’s hat-trick led Juventus into the UEFA Champions League's last eight.

The ex-Real Madrid star Ronaldo achieved his own prophecy, as reported by Marca, and scored three to pull Juve from their 2-0 first-leg deficit and jumped into the competition's quarter-finals. Messi scored two of his own as Barcelona beat Lyon 5-1 on Wednesday, and he told reporters after the game: "What Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus did was impressive. I thought Atletico Madrid would be tougher. Ronaldo had a magical night with three goals."

Both Ronaldo's Juve and Messi's Barca will star in the quarters, with the former hoping to win a fourth Champions League in a row after holding the trophy in each of his last three seasons with Real.

As was the scenario with the Bianconeri and Ronaldo, Barcelona would not have progressed on Wednesday were it not for Messi's contribution of two goals and two assists

The pair have long been painted as rivals, and Ronaldo did little to boil that competition when he challenged Messi to join him in Serie A in December.

The 34-year-old, who left Real Madrid and signed Juventus in a £100 million deal last summer, is the Champions League's all-time top scorer on 124 goals and owns an extraordinary knockout-stage record.

The 31-year-old Barcelona star was gracious with his words towards his rival following Ronaldo's hat-trick match, which was especially timely given the Portuguese had scored only one Champions League goal for Juve before Atletico's visit.

Barcelona's talisman has been a more steady force in front of goal this season and has scored 36 times in 36 appearances in all competitions. Ronaldo has scored 24 goals in the equal number of games.

BBC Sport explained Messi as the more influential player in Europe this season.

Messi sustained and predicted a tough quarter-final regardless of who Barcelona face. "All of the contestants are difficult to handle. Ajax, for example, proved that they're an excellent team of youngsters and they don't dare anyone. It'll be hard no matter who we face. We have to prepare ourselves for a difficult challenge."

Wednesday's couple took Messi up to eight Champions League goals this season and makes him the highest scorer still active in the tournament.

The Juve star couldn't help but recollect one of the more remarkable moments from the teams' first leg in Madrid on February 20

Cristiano Ronaldo got a blow in at Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone following the Juventus star's impressive hat-trick on Tuesday.

Ronaldo scored three times to help Juve to a 3-0 win on the night, entering the Champions League quarter-finals after a great comeback.

Atletico won the first leg 2-0 on February 20, a game in which Simeone punctuated his side's opening goal with an indication that UEFA believed to have crossed the line.

It was another record-setting match in the tournament for Ronaldo, as the Juve star equaled Lionel Messi for most career Champions League hat-tricks with his eighth hat-trick.


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