'Collect his blood and clone him!': Lionel Messi stuck with gruesome facial injury in CL QF (PHOTOS)
The two players went up for a header in the first half of the match at Old Trafford, and in which the diminutive Argentine maestro came off the worse of the pair, being sent sprawling by the spindly defender onto the pitch within half an hour.
Messi stayed down with blood streaming from his shattered nose and visible damage to his face. The much bigger Smalling appeared unscathed and watched on as Messi received treatment on the field.
Unsurprisingly, social media was quick to imply that Smalling had ran out of ideas to contain the Argentine, and had resorted to violent tactics.
Smalling: If you can't beat Messi, beat Messi. pic.twitter.com/GdJkvAk0xI— FootballFunnys (@FootballFunnnys) April 10, 2019
Damn Smalling wasn't joking dealing with Messi😂😂😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/Nyet5KeFRO— Chuka (@osuagwu_chuka) April 10, 2019
Smalling actually tried to break Messi's face there😂— DC🇿🇦 (@FiIthy_Herrera) April 10, 2019
Big fan of Chris Smalling saying “bring it on” to Messi and then making him bleed inside 30 minutes.— The Man Utd Way (@TheManUtdWay) April 10, 2019
Chris Smalling was up for this pre-match, Messi now knows he wasn’t joking.— Sam Homewood (@SamHomewood) April 10, 2019
Messi provided a pinpoint pass to Luis Suarez for the Uruguayan to head home on 13 minutes. The goal was originally ruled out for offside, but a VAR review later led to the decision being reversed, and the Catalan club went into half time 1-0 to the good.