The finish by Barcalona striker Lionel Messi is so clinical that this goal almost seems pedestrian. But don't be dissuaded by the ease with which he takes the chance. Watch this play develop. Watch the movement of the entire offense. And the masterful way that the pass before the assist totally unlocks the defense as if he'd been given a key. Watch. And then consider that this goal came in the 85th minute of a tie game. Watch. Consider. And then remember that the Catalans are fighting tooth and nail with Real Madrid in La Liga. Watch. Consider. Remember.
It's really all about the incisive pass from Xavi to Dani Alves. Xavi threads that ball through, or past, five bunched-together Malaga defenders and leads Alves right to the goal. Rather than have at it from there and potentially get stuffed from the onrushing goalkeeper, though, Alves slides the ball on a line across to Messi, who never cut off his run once it looked like he wasn't getting the ball. As previously mentioned, the Argentine cooly slotted the ball into the net. That goal put Barca in front of a pesky Malaga group, 2-1, and kept them on top of the standings in Spain.
This game-winner was geometry. It makes me, even if just for a moment, understand what people far more intelligent than I mean when they take about the beauty of mathematics. Angles. Straight lines. Triangles. Stephen Hawking couldn't have drawn up a better goal.
“Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.” - Albert Einstein