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The reactions to Barcelona’s amazing late win at the Santiago Bernabéu came in all shapes and sizes but there were two words that stood high above any others. The first was Leo, and the second was Messi. The Monday football columns all around the globe have hailed the greatest player that the sport has ever known, who could not have picked a better moment to score an incredible 500th career goal – in the very last minute of extra time at the home of Barça’s biggest rivals to snatch a win that suddenly throws the Catalans headlong back into the hunt for yet another Liga title.

Local hero

The image of the night was that of Messi holding up his shirt to the Bernabéu after securing 3-2 victory with the last kick of the game. “Saint Messi” (Sport), “Ecstasy” (Mundo Deportivo), “Remember My Name” (L’Esportiu) hailed the three Catalan sports dailies, while over in the Spanish capital, the two papers that traditionally back the all-whites were also glowing with praise for the Argentinian: “Messi decides: Liga back on” (Marca) and “The Greatest Show on Earth” (As).

Headlines in the general interest newspapers in Spain included El País running with “Too much Messi for Madrid in Barça victory”, El Periódico proclaiming that “Messi destroys Madrid” and La Vanguardia explaining that “Messi brings back the Liga”.

Worldwide awe

In the UK, The Guardian described how “Lionel Messi sinks Real Madrid in thriller to keep Barcelona in race”, The Sun gushed about how “Bruised, bloodied but not beaten, Lionel Messi won the Clasico for Barcelona with the last kick of an extraordinary five-goal thriller” and the Daily Mail opened its piece by declaring how “Lionel Messi confirms himself as the greatest of all time with stunning last-minute winner and EPIC celebration in El Clasico.”

Around Europe, the leading sports papers sang a similar tune: “Messi breaks Real and Barça reopen La Liga” (La Gazzeta dello Sport, Italy), “Messi stuns Real” (L’Équipe, France) and “Messi decides El Clásico” (Spiegel, Germany) were just three such examples.

Across the Atlantic, it is hardly surprising to note that the Argentine press was oozing glee at the exploits of the country’s famous son, including Olé (“Messi won it”), Clarín (“Messi hits 500 to show that Barça are still alive”) and La Nación (Messi, superb”), but all across the continent Leo’s image was splashed across the title pages. In Brazil, O Globo ran with “The boss of the ball: Messi gets goal 500 for Barça”, and Mexican paper Excelsior featured a stunning image of the player, accompanied by words that need no translation: “La glòria”.

From America to Australia

Messi-mania was rife in the US as well. “Lionel Messi's 500th Barcelona goal wins El Clasico against Real Madrid” yelled USA Today, “Lionel Messi's Late Goal Lifts Barcelona Over Real Madrid” was the leader in the New York Times, while Sports Illustrated opened its recap with the line: “Messi wins El Clasico at the death, leads Barcelona over Real Madrid.”

Messi conquered every continent. From the Sydney Morning Herald with “Messi's 500th Barcelona goal sinks Real Madrid in thriller” to the Hindustan Times in India with "Lionel Messi magic helps Barcelona trump Real Madrid in El Clasico thriller”, one name has dominated the sports pages this weekend.

Not for the first time. And not for the last … we can be sure of that. 500 and counting, there’s a lot more left in the 29-year-old and at Barça, we’re lucky to be the ones who can enjoy it the most!

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