By Joseph Wilson ,AP
BARCELONA — Lionel Messi scored two outstanding goals and set up Neymar to add another in injury time as Barcelona handed Bayern Munich and former coach Pep Guardiola a 3-0 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal on Wednesday.
Not even the coach who helped Messi become one of the best ever to play the game could find a way of stopping the prolific forward from scoring his 76th and record 77th goals in the competition.
Messi rifled a left-footed strike between Manuel Neuer and the post in the 77th, and three minutes later brought defender Jerome Boateng to the turf before chipping the goalkeeper.
Messi was in brilliant form from the start, and rounded off by providing the pass for Neymar to race away and score in stoppage time.
A day after Juventus beat Real Madrid 2-1 in the other first leg match, the scale of Barcelona’s victory now makes it a runaway favorite to reach the final �X ahead of the return leg against Bayern in Munich on Tuesday.
Guardiola said before the match that there was no way to defend Messi’s ��magnitude of talent.��
And despite keeping him in check for well over an hour, Messi finally proved his former coach right.
After the match, long gone was the smiling Guardiola speaking freely of the good memories that came to him back at Camp Nou on Tuesday.
Guardiola had also said before the match that he expected no special honors from the fans, who consider him a living club legend for his heaps of trophies as a player and a coach that include three European Cups.
Instead of seeking applause on his return to Camp Nou, the Bayern manager slipped out of the tunnel and turned right �X not left as he had for four seasons from before joining Bayern in 2013 �X to take his place in the opponents’ dugout just before kickoff.
But seeing his team in trouble from the start, Guardiola quickly emerged and spent long stretches stalking the sideline, giving orders as he once had to the side in burgundy-and-blue.
Guardiola had already made the risky decision to start Robert Lewandowski, who played with a mask to protect fractures in his upper jaw and nasal bone, when he also decided to try and stop Messi and his fellow forwards with a three-man defense.
Lewandowski, however, spent long stretches waiting for counterattacks that never happened. And when he had Bayern’s first chance in the 18th minute �X and what a chance it was when Barcelona left him unmarked in front of the goal �X he scuffed Thomas Mueller’s low ball and sent it trickling well wide.