The news that Lionel Messi’s maternal grandfather had died earlier in the week cast some doubt over whether the Argentina captain would start for Barcelona on Saturday but Messi produced another of his unforgettable performances in a 6-1 demolition of Girona as a fitting tribute.
Two goals and an assist, which made Messi La Liga’s leading goal creator as well as scorer of all-time, ensured Barcelona are ten points clear at the top and on a club record 32-match unbeaten run.
In spite of the one-sided scoreline, Girona took a shock lead inside three minutes when Cristian Portu pounced on a mix-up between Samuel Umtiti and Marc-André ter Stegen, but the lead lasted no time as Messi thread a pass through for Luis Suárez to slot in an equaliser.
👑 LEO MESSI 👑
— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) February 24, 2018
Barça took the lead after half an hour with Messi cutting inside two defenders onto his left foot to find the bottom corner and shortly after struck a clever free-kick that skidded beneath Girona’s leaping wall.
Messi then combined with Philippe Coutinho for the Brazilian to set up Suárez for his second and by the half time whistle, Barcelona’s victory was already secure.
Coutinho curled in a wonderful fifth after the break before Suárez completed his hat-trick in the 76th minute.
Ten points clear and with Messi two ahead of teammate Suárez at the top of the scoring charts, Barcelona are now 13 games away from becoming the first team to go a full La Liga campaign unbeaten since the 1930s, when the season only lasted 18 games.