Lionel Messi was left battered, bruised, and bleeding after he was clumsily challenged by Chris Smalling during a UEFA Champions League match.

FC Barcelona travelled to Old Trafford in the north of England to contest the first leg of its crucial quarter-final against Manchester United.

Ahead of the match, Smalling was asked by the media how he was feeling about marking Messi, a player so good at soccer than when he scores, opposing fans stand and applaud.

Smalling, seemingly unfazed, told BBC it was “a challenge to relish” before adding: “Bring it on.”

Smalling, who is 28 centimeters taller than Messi, certainly brought it midway through Wednesday’s match, but unfortunately for the Barça forward, the United defender’s challenge was one he never saw coming.

It all happened in the first half when Messi was preparing to control the ball coming down from the sky.

Rather than give Messi a chance to control the ball, Smalling entered the frame and shoulder-barged Messi out of the way before he even made contact with it.

All Messi could do was collapse awkwardly on the floor. He was then seen bleeding from the mouth with a cut on his eyelid and a bruise on his cheek.

It wasn’t all bad news for Messi, though, as his passing vision led to a Luis Suarez attack and Luke Shaw own goal just 12 minutes into the match.

Should Barcelona preserve its lead then it takes a clear advantage into the second leg at Camp Nou in Spain, on Tuesday.

Source: Alan Dawson

www.sports24ghana.com