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Messi's magic cements place in Barcelona record book

Updated: 2014-03-18 07:36
By Agnecies in Madrid ( China Daily)

Hat-trick moves Argentine forward to top of club's all-time scoring list

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick to become Barcelona's all-time top scorer as it warmed up for this weekend's El Clasico against Real Madrid with a 7-0 pounding of Osasuna that moved it four points off the top of La Liga.

The Argentine now has 371 goals for Barca in all matches including friendlies, surpassing the record of Paulino Alcantara, who played for the club between 1912 and 1927 and notched 369 goals.

 Messi's magic cements place in Barcelona record book

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and defender Dani Alves celebrate after scoring a goal during Sunday's 7-0 La Liga trouncing of Osasuna at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona. Messi scored three times to become Barcelona's all-time top scorer with 371 goals. Lluis Gene / Agence France-Presse

Messi struck the opener after 18 minutes in a morale-boosting victory for the Catalan side ahead of the crunch game at the Bernabeu.

Barca knocked Manchester City out of the Champions League last Wednesday but went into the Osasuna clash on the back of two defeats in its previous three league games.

After a slow start, the host was sparked into life by Messi's opening goal as he flicked home at the near post from Alexis Sanchez's cross.

Sanchez was next on the scoresheet as he finished off a similar move involving Andres Iniesta and Jordi Alba before Iniesta's strike from 25 yards made it 3-0.

Messi then broke another record by registering his 370th Barca goal to overtake Alcantara as the club's record marksman before rounding off his hat-trick in between further strikes from Cristian Tello and Pedro Rodriguez.

"To enter into the history of this club is spectacular," Messi told Barca TV.

"If you play on this team it is much easier. This group continues to do great things and I think it deserves to continue winning things."

Next up for Barcelona is a trip to the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday and Messi is sure the club can get itself back into the title race by ending Madrid's five-month unbeaten run in all competitions.

"I hope we see a good version of Barcelona and we can get a positive result, which we need to still be in there fighting for La Liga just a point behind.

Messi's magic cements place in Barcelona record book

"We have a unique opportunity to cut the gap on Madrid. It will be a very difficult game because we are playing away from home and Real Madrid is a great team playing with a lot of confidence.

"It will be difficult, but it all depends on us."

The Argentine's first hat-trick of 2014 means he has now scored 12 times in his last nine games and he believes he is slowly getting back to his best after missing the last two months of 2013 due to a hamstring injury.

"I feel good, as I have said before, little by little I am getting better after the injury," said Messi.

"There were very difficult moments because I had a run of injuries, but I am feeling good and hopefully I can maintain this level until the end of the season."

Barca boss Gerardo Martino hailed his compatriot's display as his side returned to winning ways in La Liga after a shock 1-0 defeat to Valladolid last weekend.

"There is nothing that needs to be said about Messi. He continues to play games like this and break records."

However, despite such a resounding scoreline, Martino insisted Barca's display hadn't affected his thinking over what starting lineup to go with against Real Madrid.

"Today doesn't generate any doubts in my mind ahead of the Bernabeu. The performance doesn't affect how I think we should play there," said the coach.

"I always have in mind what I think about the team independent of the result, and I have almost decided upon the team for next week.

"To have a good performance ahead of the game at the Bernabeu is positive, but we can't get carried away by the score.

"This is a squad full of important figures and some have to be left out. It is not easy to manage because they are all so good.

"However, I can't get carried away by this game and it will not affect my thinking too much."

(China Daily 03/18/2014 page24)