Leo sets new mark in impressive fashion and is now the all-time La Liga scoring leader
The Argentinian leads the rout as Barça dominate one of Spain’s top teams
Lionel Messi scored three times to break the all-time La Liga goal scoring record and propel FC Barcelona to a run-away victory over Sevilla on Saturday night at Camp Nou.
Messi was brought down just outside the penalty area in the 20th minute and then proceeded to take the ensuing direct kick and curl it in over a leaping four-man wall into the upper left corner. Sevilla keeper Beto tried his best but couldn’t even get a hand on it.
The goal was the 251st career goal in La Liga for the four-time Ballon d’Or winner. It tied Telmo Zarra, who played for Athletic Bilbao and had held the record since 1955.
Messi had been trying to tie the record for weeks, but had run into a combination of stifling defences intent on stopping him with double and triple teams and sheer bad luck, including several shots over that span that hit the woodwork.
There was a feeling earlier this week that the record was likely to fall versus Sevilla, as the Andalusian side have historically been one of Messi’s favourite victims. Heading into Saturday’s match, he had burned Sevilla for 18 career goals.
Throughout the first half Barça dominated with nearly seventy per cent possession. Sergio Busquets stood tall in midfield and effectively put the brakes on any thoughts Sevilla had of making a counterattack.
Just before the break, Barça had a pair of golden opportunities to extend the lead but a last ditch defensive effort swept away Jordi Alba’s five-hole shot that beat Beto who, a few seconds later, made a marvellous one-handed stop on Neymar from point-blank range.
The second half had barely got underway when Sevilla sent a dangerous cross into Barça’s area that somehow made it through Claudio Bravo as he arrived to the ball at the same time as a Sevilla attacker. Jordi Alba was not expecting it to bounce his way and it deflected off his leg into the net, allowing Sevilla to draw even at 1-1, despite not having registered a shot on goal.
Barely 2 minutes later, Barça re-entered Sevilla’s half when Xavi chipped a through ball of his own that caught the Sevilla defence flat-footed and found Neymar who headed over Beto and into the back of the net to retake the lead.
In the 65th minute, Luis Suárez got loose on the right wing and sprinted to catch up to a deep ball just before the end line. Suárez, who had been relatively quiet up until that point, corralled the sphere and floated a pass to the far post, where Ivan Rakitic headed home for a 3-1 lead.
The new king of Spain
But despite the flurry of second half goals, it wasn’t until the 72nd minute that the fans got what they came to see. Barça went out on a three-on-two with Messi out in front. He fed Neymar to the left who passed up a clear shot on goal to give back to Messi. It was a risky pass but Leo banged it in to extend the lead and surpass Zarra.
Messi was immediately mobbed by his teammates who tossed him into the air as the crowd broke into a standing ovation, chanting his name in unison.
And to put the icing on the cake, the newly minted record-holder struck again with another fine feed from Neymar, blasting a low shot into the left corner from 17 metres for his third goal of the evening and the 253rd of his career in La Liga.