BARCELONA, April 9 – Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry fired double European champions Barcelona to a 4-0 mauling of Bayern Munich on Wednesday to virtually ensure a Champions League semi-finals spot.
Barcelona scored all of their goals in an incredible first half with Argentine Messi scoring twice while Eto’o and Henry also got on the scoresheet.
Messi scored the opener after nine minutes and his second on 38 minutes made him the competition’s top-scorer with eight goals.
The Camp Nou is not Bayern’s favourite venue with their last Champions League visit being the nightmare 1999 final – when they lost 2-1 to Manchester United, conceding two goals in the closing minutes.
"Obviously 4-0 in the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final match is incredible," said Barca coach Pep Guardiola. "We did almost everything right. Bayern have great players so it is difficult to beat them. The talent made the difference tonight."
The four-goal cushion means Barcelona should ease into the semi-finals – where Liverpool or Chelsea await – barring a miracle recovery from Bayern in the quarter-final second leg in Munich on April 14.
Deportivo La Coruna famously came from 4-1 down in the first leg to beat AC Milan 4-0 in the 2004 quarter-finals so Barcelona should be warned.
"We did what we wanted to do in the first half and Bayern have the quality to do the same to us so we have to go there with a bit of caution," said Henry.
"However, it is better to go to Munich having not conceded an away goal and we got the reward for our hard work."
Bayern coach Jurgen Klinsmann admitted Barcelona had been the better side.
"It is a big disappointment," he said. "Barca played very well and you have to congratulate them. Messi is simply a wonderful player.
"It was difficult to compensate for the injuries to (Philipp) Lahm, Lucio, (Miroslav) Klose and (Daniel) van Buyten (who had been granted compassionate leave) and the two early goals we conceded hurt us a lot."
Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer was outraged by the result.
"What I saw in the first half is, without doubt, the worst football ever in Bayern’s history. It was a demonstration, almost a humiliation. Barcelona gave us a football lesson," said Beckenbauer.
Klinsmann dropped first choice goalkeeper Michael Rensing with Hans-Jorg Butt, who played in goal with Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 Champions League final, taking his place.
Rensing was in goal for Bayern’s 5-1 drubbing by VfL Wolfsburg at the weekend.
German international defender Lahm missed the match through injury after failing to overcome a calf injury so Christian Lell had the unenviable task of marking Messi.
Henry had a glorious chance on five minutes rounding the goalkeeper but his weak shot was cleared off the line.
Three minutes later Messi scored receiving a pass from Eto’o before finishing like he was in training instead of in front of a 90,000 plus crowd.
Messi then turned provider feeding Eto’o who slotted home in the 12th minute.
Captain Marc van Bommel, a former Barcelona player, tried in vain to motivate his shell-shocked team-mates.
Messi was then booked for diving in the 17th minute although it looked like he had been chopped down and Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola was furious that it wasn’t a penalty.
Guardiola, usually so cool, continued to protest and was sent to watch the rest of the game from the stands. Henry then went agonisingly close to a third on 21 minutes.
Bayern had crushed Sporting Lisbon 12-1 on aggregate in the last round and were beginning to discover what it was like to be on the wrong end of a drubbing.
Henry showed a turn of pace to put in Messi for a second in the 38th minute and the Frenchman added a fourth two minutes before the interval after Messi fed him out wide.
Messi almost grabbed his hat-trick when he hit the crossbar in the second half.
Bayern had one great chance to get a lifeline in the tie but Barcelona captain Carles Puyol produced a great block to deny Ze Roberto in the 70th minute.