Lionel Messi achieved yet another scoring milestone when he notched his 50th career hat-trick as Barcelona battled to a 4-2 victory away at Sevilla.
It was yet another masterful performance from Messi, who now has 44 hat-tricks for the Blaugrana to go with his six for Argentina.
This latest treble means he now has 32 hat-tricks in La Liga, just two behind the record holder Cristiano Ronaldo, 12 years on from his first against Real Madrid in March 2007.
Earlier this season, the Argentine superstar scored his eighth hat-trick in the Champions League in a 4-0 victory against PSV Eindhoven at Camp Nou. The treble meant he broke a tie with Ronaldo to make him the most prolific hat-trick scorer in the competition’s history.
As well as scoring a hat-trick, Messi capped off a fine individual performance with a late assist for Luis Suarez as Barca twice came from behind at Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan stadium on Saturday.
It ensured Messi kept up his remarkable record against Sevilla. The 31-year-old has now been involved in at least one goal in 20 of his last 21 games against Los Rojiblancos in all competitions, scoring 23 goals and contributing a further 14 assists.
Messi’s scored one goal and set up another in the reverse meeting at Camp Nou in October, though his game was brought to a premature end when he was forced off after just 26 minutes with a fractured arm, an injury that ruled him out of the first El Clasico of the season.
There would be no misery for Messi on this occasion though, with the striker twice hauling Barca level either side of half-time.
His superb chip over Tomas Vaclik then put Barca ahead for the first time with five minutes left, before setting up Suarez for the fourth goal in stoppage-time.
‘Lionel not only scored three goals, but you have to see where, when and how he gets them,’ Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde told reporters after the match.
‘We have a decisive and superlative player.
‘All teams have decisive players but we have the best in the world. Not only for his goals, but because he [always] appears in the right place at the right time.’
It takes Messi to 25 La Liga goals for the season, nine clear of his nearest challenger and teammate Suarez. In all competitions, he has 33 goals in 32 games.
The win extends Barcelona’s lead at the top of the table to 10 points, with second-placed Atletico Madrid not playing until Sunday.
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