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Messi breaks La Liga scoring record in style

Messi breaks La Liga scoring record in style
Lionel Messi became the all-time top goalscorer in La Liga history with a hat-trick as Barcelona swept aside Sevilla 5-1 on Saturday to remain two points adrift of league leaders Real Madrid. Messi, 27, moved level with legendary Basque striker Telmo Zarra when he opened the scoring with a trademark free-kick to register his 251st goal in his 289th appearance in the Spanish top flight.

A Jordi Alba own goal briefly brought Sevilla level early in the second-half, but Neymar swiftly restored Barca’s advantage before Ivan Rakitic made the game safe when he headed home Luis Suarez’s enticing cross against his old club.

Messi then took over as he slid in to convert Neymar’s low cross to set the new record and extended it moments later with a precise low finish to round off a fine evening for Luis Enrique’s men against a side that started the evening just two points adrift of the Catalans.

Sevilla were expected to pose a serious threat to a Barca side that has struggled in recent La Liga outings. However, the hosts had complete control of the game in the first-half and could have been in front before Messi’s historic strike as the Argentine’s first effort of the match was smothered by Beto and the Portuguese ‘keeper then denied Luis Suarez from a narrow angle.

Messi’s moment came midway through the first-half as his free-kick curled perfectly into Beto’s top right-hand corner to register his 12th goal of the season. Only some frantic defending kept the Andalusians in the game as Barca ended the half strongly as Nico Pareja slid in to prevent Suarez his first Barca goal after Alba had nutmegged Beto and the Portuguese ‘keeper showed smart reactions to deny Neymar from the resulting corner with an outstretched leg.

All of Barca’s good work in the first 45 minutes was undone just over 60 seconds after the restart, though, as Vitolo eased past Gerard Pique down Sevilla’s left and his low cross was bundled into his own net by the unfortunate Alba. It took the hosts just two minutes to make amends, however, as Xavi’s free-kick was headed low into the far corner by Neymar.

Leaves many greats behind
If anyone had said when a callow teenager called Lionel Messi netted his debut La Liga goal in May 2005 he would break Telmo Zarra’s top-flight scoring record within a decade they would have been dismissed as a lunatic.

Yet that is what the pint-sized 27-year-old Argentine achieved when he scored a hat-trick in Saturday’s 5-1 win for Barcelona over Sevilla at the Nou Camp, moving to 253 goals and surpassing Zarra’s haul of 251 over 15 seasons for Athletic Bilbao in the 1940s and 50s.

Messi has taken 10 seasons to overhaul Zarra, also setting a remarkable record for goals in a single campaign of 50 in 2011-12, and the illustrious names he has leapfrogged give some indication of the scale of his feat. The likes of Hugo Sanchez (234 goals), Raul (228), Alfredo Di Stefano (227) and Cesar Rodriguez (226) have been left trailing and, with years left in his career, Messi’s eventual tally could stand as long as Zarra’s if not a lot longer. Messi also has a share of the Champions League scoring record, having equalled Raul’s haul of 71 goals this month and he could overhaul it in Tuesday’s game at APOEL Nicosia.

A glance at the numbers shows Messi’s goals per game ratio in La Liga is second only to Zarra’s who amassed his 251 in a mere 277 matches while the Barca attacker needed 289 games. Sanchez’s 234 came in 347 matches, Raul needed 550 games to reach 228 and Di Stefano required 329 for his 227 goals.

Record beckons Ronaldo

While Barcelona forward Lionel Messi was busy breaking the all-time La Liga scoring record on Saturday, Cristiano Ronaldo took a step closer to smashing the best for a single season of 50 goals also held by Messi. Ronaldo struck twice in a 4-0 win for Real at Eibar and Ronaldo has now scored 20 goals in 11 appearances in Spain’s top flight this term.

If he continues at current pace, his season tally will be more than 60, comfortably surpassing Messi’s record set in 2011-12. Ronaldo is the first player to reach 20 goals in opening 12 rounds of La Liga.
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