Lionel Messi celebrated another goalscoring milestone with four more as Barcelona demolished 10-man Osasuna 5-1 in La Liga on Sunday.
The Argentinian went one better than great rival Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick earlier in the evening as he was part of a Barca side who utterly outclassed woefully inferior opposition.
His second was his 200th goal in the Primera Division, another landmark feat in his ever-growing list of achievements, which now also includes becoming the first player to score in 11 successive La Liga matches.
The fourth brought his total in the league this term to 33 and he is on track to match last season's barely-believable 50. Seventeen more are needed from 17 games; only for Messi would that be considered simple.
And next up for him, albeit in the Copa Del Rey semi-finals: Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Pedro was also on target for the Catalans, while Raoul Loe briefly levelled for Osasuna before Alejandro Arribas' sending-off after 27 minutes made their task an almost impossible one. The win preserved Barca's convincing lead over at the top of the Primera Division, while Osasuna remained in relegation danger.
Barcelona started quickly and Thiago Alcantara brought a fine parry out of goalkeeper Andres Fernandez after only four minutes.
They went ahead seven minutes later through a predictable source. Xavi's exquisite pass from the left played in Messi and he rounded Fernandez to score.
The visitors levelled in the 23rd minute as a clearance fell to Loe on the edge of the area and his low shot with the outside of his left foot found the bottom-left corner, with keeper Victor Valdes perhaps unsighted.
Parity last just five minutes, though.
Arribas conceded a penalty with a handball in the area and was sent off for a second yellow card before Messi stepped up to score low into the corner.
And this time there was no way back for Osasuna.
Messi was denied a hat-trick by a post as his header from a Dani Alves cross came back off the frame of the goal, but Pedro had better luck five minutes before the break.
Again Alves was the provider and his ball in from the right was swept home by the Spain forward. But this match, yet again, was about Messi and he got his hat-trick in the 56th minute, running on to a pass from David Villa down the left of the area, rounding Fernandez and sliding the ball into the empty net.
Three became four two minutes later. Villa's pull-back from the left byline picked out Claro Adriano in the area and his pass across goal was flicked in by Messi.
The forward has scored five in one match before, against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League, but this time Osasuna, who defended desperately to the end, were spared further embarrassment.
what do you think?
Fantastic player all he needs to do is win the world cup almost single handed like maradona and he'll be considered one of the greats.
All he needs to do now is win the world cup almost single handed like maradona and he'll be considered one of the greats
Mmm I think he is already considered one of the greats...if not THE greatest
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As Magic as Messi is, I still think Cristiano Ronaldo is the better player, had an amazing run with Manchester United, played brilliantly for Sporting Lisbon and now on fire for Real Madrid... Messi has not had the challenge of another league, he is only good due to the team that play around him, if he came to England he would not stand a chance and would have his legs being chopped almost every game and thats where it is proved that refreeing is much tougher in England as he would not get as much free kicks/penalties as he does in Spain, Real Madrid and Barcelona seem to be the bullies of Spanish football
He was named the best player in the WORLD for the last 4 seasons. Do you know how that is chosen? Every player and manager votes on who they think is the best and Messi has taken that for the last 4 years on the spin. His peers picked him, because they think he is the best. Ronaldo hasn't got near the achievements Messi has
Your still missing the point his peers vote on what he does with barcelona who dominate everyone.
You're missing the point im afraid. Yeah his peers vote on what he does. And what he did was score the most goals anyone has ever scored over the last few years to help Barcelona dominate everyone. Without his goals they wouldn't be where they are
Put him in a lesser side in spain or QPR in england and you'd see the difference.
Mr Jowett put Suarez in Messis place and he'd get those accolades.
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