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Lionel Messi’s Hat-Trick Breaks La Liga Record As Barcelona Beat Sevilla

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LIONEL Messi set a La Liga scoring record of 253 goals with his latest hat-trick, as Barcelona brushed aside Sevilla. The previous mark has been held by former Athletic Bilbao striker Telmo Zarra since 1955, which marked the end of the Spaniard’s 15-year career with the Basque club. Zarra scored his 251 goals in 277 appearances while Argentina captain Messi needed 289 games.

“We are all very happy and of course also for Leo,” Xavi, the Barça captain, said. “He has achieved an amazing and historic record.”

Messi, 27, equalled the record in the 21st minute with a typically breathtaking effort, curling a left-footed free kick around the wall and past Sevilla goalkeeper Beto. He struck again from close range in the 72nd minute and scored a third goal six minutes later with a powerful low drive from the edge of the penalty area.

Messi’s team-mates picked him up and threw him into the air several times while his adoring fans at the Camp Nou wildly cheered their talisman who joined the club’s academy at the age of 13. The four-times World Player of the Year has scored 206 goals with his favoured left foot, 38 with his right, eight with his head and one, which should have been ruled out, with his hand.

If anyone had said when the callow teenager netted his first La Liga goal in May 2005 he would break Zarra’s top-flight scoring record within a decade they would have been dismissed as a lunatic. Yet that is what he has achieved, taking 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.

Hugo Sánchez (234 goals), Raúl (228), Alfredo Di Stéfano (227) and César Rodríguez (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 Raúl’s haul of 71 goals this month, and he could overhaul it in Tuesday’s game at Apoel Nicosia.

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 Barça attacker needed 289 games. Sánchez’s 234 came in 347 matches, Raúl needed 550 games to reach 228 and Di Stéfano required 329 for his 227 goals.

Anyone who has watched Messi in recent years knows he can do things with a football that seem to defy the laws of physics and he does not fit into the mould of a traditional striker. Most of the other players at the top of the charts were considered out-and-out goalscorers, while Messi tends to roam the pitch. His ability to dribble at speed past opponents is outstanding and, as well as netting a phenomenal number of goals, he regularly sets up team-mates to score.

“Messi has something magical about him when the ball touches his feet,” the former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has said. “It’s as if it has landed on a bed of feathers.” – The Independent

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