Lionel Messi finally ended his pursuit of Telmo Zarra’s 59-year-old La Liga goal scoring record with a devastating hat-trick in Barcelona’s 5-1 demolition of Sevilla. The four-time Ballon D’or winner further enhanced his legacy with a trademark performance to silence his critics and move to the top of the list in the record books for Spain’s leading scorers.
The 27-year-old curled in a exquisite free kick after 21 minutes and although a Jordi Alba own goal brought Sevilla level, goals from Neymar and Ivan Rakitic put Barca firmly in control. However, the moment the whole of the Camp Nou was waiting for came in the 72nd minute when Messi slid in Neymar’s return pass. With this goal, Messi broke the record of Zarra, notching his 252nd La Liga goal and those in attendance had witnessed yet another piece of history.
However, Messi was not done yet and five minutes later he cut in from the left, exchanged quick passes with Neymar before placing a controlled finish into the bottom right corner, in the most typical of Messi goals. The hat trick was complete and Messi already began stretching his lead at the summit of La Liga’s goal scoring list.
Still at just 27 years of age, it is difficult to know how many records Messi may end up holding when he calls time on his career. Barcelona manager, Luís Enrique was the first to praise his record breaking striker.
“He’s a unique player – there’ll never be anyone like him and we’re lucky to enjoy his presence here. I think he will leave the record unreachable for anyone else. Zarra beat it in an age when there were more forwards than defenders.”
This is certainly true. As football has developed it has grown more defensive than when Zarra plied his trade and whether Messi will leave the record ‘unreachable’ is unknown. However, what is undeniable is Messi is a once in a generation talent and while he is still playing he should be celebrated.