Lionel Messi's stunning
hat-trick set a Barcelona scoring record of 234 goals as the La
Liga champions won an action-packed home game against Granada
5-3 to close within five points of La Liga leaders Real Madrid
With his sixth league treble of the season, the Argentine
World Player of the Year also set a Spanish record of 54 goals
in all competitions with more than two months of the campaign
remaining and overhauled Cristiano Ronaldo to top the La Liga
scoring charts on 34 goals, two more than the Real forward.
Still only 24, Messi is well on the way to earning an
unprecedented fourth straight World Player award and achieved
his latest scoring feat after becoming the first man to net five
goals in a Champions League match earlier this month.
Tuesday's haul took his tally to an incredible 17 goals in
his last seven games for his club.
"I am sorry for those who want to occupy his throne but this
lad is simply the best," Barca coach Pep Guardiola told a news
"Michael Jordan dominated his sport, Messi does the same in
football. There's nothing more to say."
Real Madrid play their game in hand at Villarreal on
Wednesday and have 71 points from 27 matches. Barcelona, chasing
a fourth successive title, have 66 from 28 games.
Xavi's neat volley from Messi's headed assist put Barca
ahead in the fourth minute at a rainy Nou Camp and Messi doubled
their lead shortly after to match Cesar Rodriguez's 60-year-old
club scoring mark of 232 goals.
Isaac Cuenca's deflected cross fell to him on the edge of
the penalty area and he stroked the ball low into the net off
the left-hand post.
Barca seemed in complete control but Granada pulled a goal
back 10 minutes into the second half when Diego Mainz nodded in
from a free-kick and the visitors grabbed a shock equaliser from
the penalty spot seven minutes later after Daniel Alves fouled
Guilherme Siqueira kept his nerve amidst the whistling to
beat Victor Valdes and make it 2-2 before Messi restored Barca's
lead just over 20 minutes from time.
Racing clear from an Alves pass, he lifted the ball over
goalkeeper Julio Cesar before Barca substitute Cristian Tello
made it 4-2 in the 82nd minute when he followed up Messi's
The unstoppable Argentine completed his hat-trick four
minutes later, his 234th Barca goal in official matches, and in
an eventful finale Alves was shown a second yellow card and
dismissed for a handball in the area.
Siqueira beat Valdes from the spot for a second time as
Granada became the first team to put three goals past Barca at
the Nou Camp since Villarreal in 2009.
In the earlier kick-off, Osasuna missed a chance to climb
above Levante and Malaga to fourth and into the Champions League
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