Lionel Messi celebrated a record-breaking 768th appearance for Barcelona with two goals as the Spanish giants thrashed Real Sociedad 6-1 in La Liga.
The Argentina forward, 33, moved one game clear of former midfielder Xavi’s total as Barca closed the gap on leaders Atletico Madrid to four points.
Antoine Griezmann opened the scoring, Sergino Dest scored twice and Ousmane Dembele also found the net.
Messi has now scored 23 league goals so far this season.
At 5-0 down, Ander Barrenetxea did manage to find a consolation goal for Sociedad with arguably the strike of the night, but it was far too late for Imanol Alguacil’s side to stage a fightback at the Anoeta Stadium.
Messi did not disappoint on his history-making night, showing the same energy and enthusiasm he has done throughout his career for the Catalan club.
His first major act was to turn provider for American Dest to score his first goal for Barcelona. The threaded through-ball also took Messi’s assist tally up to eight for the 2020-21 season.
After testing Sociedad goalkeeper Alex Remiro twice in the first half, Messi finally grabbed a well-deserved reward during the second half by poking home Barca’s fourth.
The icing on the cake for Messi came on 89 minutes when the Argentine’s good link-up play with left-back Jordi Alba resulted in a second goal on his special night.
As much as the three points were a welcome birthday gift for boss Ronald Koeman, Barca still trail league leaders Atletico Madrid in the race to become champions.
Earlier on Sunday, Diego Simeone’s men beat Alaves 1-0, thanks to Luis Suarez’s 500th career goal and a late Jan Oblak penalty save.
The history man adds to his records
The king of the Nou Camp will become a free agent this summer when his contract expires, but his statistics for the famous club may never be beaten.
Thanks to his double against Sociedad, Messi has extended his tally as Barca’s record goalscorer to 663 goals in all competitions.
When it comes to La Liga’s all-time top scorer, he is out in front with 467 goals. That’s 156 more than closest rival Cristiano Ronaldo’s 311 for Real Madrid.
He has also chalked up at least 20 goals in La Liga in 13 consecutive seasons, the highest record in the competition.
Less than three months into 2021, Messi has already scored 15 goals in the 12 games he has played. And with another El Clasico on the horizon following the international break, the playmaker will be looking to top up his tally of 26 goals in all competitions against rivals Real Madrid – the most any player has scored in the fixture.
Quiz – name the Barcelona stalwarts
In honour of a certain footballer making Barca history on Sunday, we have a little quiz for you to try.
Below are the 10 players who have made the most appearances for the Catalan club. All you have to do is name as many as you can in eight minutes.
The first one is easy. His name is mentioned several times in this report.
Select start quiz and good luck.
Players with the most appearances for Barcelona
Score: 0 / 10
- 5ZubeldiaBooked at 79minsSubstituted forSagnanat 83′minutes
- 36ZubimendiBooked at 9minsSubstituted forFernándezat 72′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 24Le Normand
- 18GorosabelSubstituted forBarrenetxeaat 61′minutes
- 7Portugués ManzaneraSubstituted forJanuzajat 61′minutes
- 19IsakSubstituted forBautistaat 83′minutes
- 1ter Stegen
- 21de Jong
- 2DestSubstituted forMachado Trincãoat 84′minutes
- 5BusquetsBooked at 27minsSubstituted forAraujoat 67′minutes
- 16GonzálezSubstituted forKourouma Kouroumaat 68′minutes
- 7GriezmannSubstituted forPuigat 85′minutes
- 11DembéléSubstituted forBraithwaiteat 79′minutesBooked at 88mins
- 13Murara Neto
- 17Machado Trincão
- 19Fernandes Siqueira
- 27Kourouma Kourouma
- José Luis Munuera Montero
Match ends, Real Sociedad 1, Barcelona 6.
Second Half ends, Real Sociedad 1, Barcelona 6.
Carlos Fernández (Real Sociedad) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Clément Lenglet (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Carlos Fernández (Real Sociedad).
Attempt blocked. Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Martín Merquelanz.
Foul by Ilaix Moriba (Barcelona).
Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Real Sociedad 1, Barcelona 6. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jordi Alba.
Martin Braithwaite (Barcelona) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Martin Braithwaite (Barcelona).
Robin Le Normand (Real Sociedad) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Jon Bautista (Real Sociedad) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Carlos Fernández.
Attempt saved. Carlos Fernández (Real Sociedad) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jon Bautista.
Attempt missed. Jon Bautista (Real Sociedad) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ander Barrenetxea.
Substitution, Barcelona. Riqui Puig replaces Antoine Griezmann.
Substitution, Barcelona. Trincão replaces Sergiño Dest.
Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Ander Barrenetxea (Real Sociedad).
Substitution, Real Sociedad. Jon Bautista replaces Alexander Isak.