FC Barcelona thought they had this one in the bag: Xavi scored the first goal of the match in the fourth minute, and Lionel Messi followed it up by tying the all-time Barcelona goal-scoring record in the 17th with a blast from the far post off a cross from youngster Isaac Cuenca. They were coasting, up by two within 20 minutes in the Camp Nou, surrounded by thousands of adoring fans -- plus, Messi had just made some Barça-istory (a made-up word combining Barcelona and history, though I admit just saying the whole thing would have been easier).
But then things started to go wrong. First, Granada came out in the second half looking like a team with nothing to lose -- and you always fear teams with nothing to lose. They made their move within 10 minutes, blasting down the wing and whipping in a cross that found the head of the rushing central defender Mainz. Then, only five minutes later it was mayhem in the Nou Camp: Dani Alves tripped up Dani Benítez as the forward tried to break on goal. Penalty. Replays showed that, while it is possible the Granada attacker simulated, there was enough contact to justify the call.
But just like every major moment in recent Barça-istory (see, I knew I'd use this again), Lionel Messi came to the rescue. On a play that is dubious at the very least (replays showed Messi to be a tiny bit offsides, though at that distance precision becomes complicated), Dani Alves threaded a ball past the Granada defenders and onto the foot of the wondrously talented Argentinian. 3-2 in the 68th minute, and that would do it.
Well, except for the rest of the goals. In the 81st minute, a play almost identical to the previous goal led to a finish from another youngster, Tello. In this case, Messi didn't seem offsides, and Iniesta was the one passing, and Granada goalkeeper Julio César managed to stop his initial shot. But a lucky bounce allowed Tello to slot home a side-footed volley inside the six yard box, and put Barça up for good.
Oh, and then Messi scored again, this one on another long pass from Dani Alves. The little Argentinian slipped through the defense and slotted home his third of the night, a brilliant hat-trick for Barcelona's new all-time goal-scoring leader.
I suppose I'm obligated to mention the last moments of the match: in a play literally exactly like the first Granada penalty, Dani Alves took out Dani Benítez in the area. It was an obvious foul, and the referee didn't waste any time in whipping out a red card for Alves (and a yellow to Mascherano for protesting). Siquiera converted this one (as he did the first) by embarrassing Barcelona keeper Víctor Valdés with a ridiculous chip-shot penalty (we call it a Panenka in Spain).
So, Granada and Barcelona combined to score eight goals on the night Lionel Messi claimed the all-time Barcelona goalscoring crown. A fitting tribute to a little man who scores a lot of goals.