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Muntari walks off after racist abuse

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By ESPN Staff

Messi slams Del Horno 'attack'

Lionel Messi has accused full-back Asier del Horno of trying to hurt him after the Chelsea defender was sent off for his reckless lunge at the Barcelona forward.

The 18-year-old Argentinian was accused of being an 'actor and a cheat' by Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho for his part in the incident which marred their Champions League clash at Stamford Bridge.

But Messi insists the Spanish left-back had already marked his leg with a flying tackle and the youngster believes he was determined to 'do' him.

Messi is adamant the only reason he was not seriously hurt by the Chelsea player was because he tried to jump out of the way at the last minute.

'It was already obvious from his first attack on me that he went in really to kick me on the knee,' declared Messi.

'So that by the time the second one happened he came in really hard and I could see that he was going over the ball with the intention of 'doing' me.

'That was why I jumped and that is the only reason he did not do real damage to me.'

Former Arsenal defender Giovanni van Bronckhorst backed Messi's view by explaining that del Horno had left Messi with a nasty gash on his leg.

He said: 'I was a long way from the incident but the marks on Messi's leg are amazing. He has marks on his leg 20 centimetres long and the Chelsea player caught him with his studs. I think he caught him really hard with the challenge.

'The sending-off definitely affected the game. It was difficult for Chelsea because they couldn't play their favoured system and they couldn't get out of their own half easily. It was the turning point. We're very happy with the result but it's not over yet.'

Mourinho wants UEFA to take a look at Messi's 'acting' after the player feigned injury following Del Horno's tackle.

However, Norwegian official Terje Hauge today defended his decision to red card the Chelsea full-back.

Hauge explained: 'I feel it is important to see the situation live.

'When you see it in slow motion, you can be fooled by how he got into the situation.

'I have got a good feeling that I made the right decision myself, but the red card was a key moment for how the match would develop.

'The incident will probably get discussed in the coming few days. It was expected that it would be a tough match and it was.'

Van Bronckhorst claimed Messi is one of the most exciting players he has ever seen after the youngster gave Chelsea's defence the run-around all night.

Chelsea had taken the lead through Thiago Motta's own goal but Chelsea's John Terry made a similar error at the opposite end for the equaliser before Samuel Eto'o headed an 80th-minute winner.

But Messi was at the heart of all Barcelona's best moves and the teenager was unlucky not to get on the score sheet himself.

'He is amazing,' said Van Bronckhorst. 'Two years ago when he was in Barca's reserves, he was 16 then and the best player in the 'B' team. His development in the last two years has been amazing.'