Lionel Messi celebrated a record 768th appearance for Barcelona with two goals as the Catalans hammered Real Sociedad 6-1 in La Liga at San Sebastian.
The Argentina captain moved ahead of former midfielder and teammate Xavi as the player with most appearances for the club from Catalonia.
World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann opened the scoring for Barcelona and American Sergino Dest scored a brace and Ousmane Dembele also found the net.
Messi has now scored 23 league goals so far this season and is 4 goals clear of Luis Suarez who is in second in the race for the Pichichi (La Liga golden boot).
At 5-0 down, Ander Barrenetxea scored a consolation goal for Sociedad with an unbelievable strike, but it was all but over already for Imanol Alguacil’s side at the Anoeta Stadium.
Messi did not disappoint on his historic night. His first major contribution was an assist for American Dest who scored his first goal for Barcelona. Messi’s through ball was perfect as his assist tally went up to 8 for the 2020-21 season.
Messi capped off a fantastic display again with a well-deserved goal in the second half by poking home Barca’s 4th of the game.
The icing on the cake for Messi was in the 89th minute when his link-up play with Jordi Alba led to his second goal of the night that saw Barca asserting their dominance over the side that led the league for a while this season.
Even after Barca’s strong performance, the Catalans still trail league leaders Atletico Madrid in the title race. They stay 4 points behind Diego Simeone’s Atletico who had to scrap to a victory over Deportivo Alaves earlier on Sunday thanks to Luis Suarez’s 500th career goal and a Jan Oblak penalty save.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 21, 2021
Messi continues to crush records
Thanks to his brace against Real Sociedad, Messi has now extended his tally as Barcelona’s all-time leading goal scorer to 663 goals in all competitions.
He is La Liga‘s all-time leading scorer as well with 467 goals. He is 156 ahead of 2nd place, Cristiano Ronaldo so will most likely never be caught.
He has scored at least 20 goals in La Liga in 13 consecutive seasons, which is the highest record in the competition.
Brief glimpse of Barca’s future on display
Sergino Dest showed Lionel Messi and the world of what the future has in store for the Catalans as the American fullback bagged a brace for the side in the victory against La Real.
After the emergence of Ansu Fati, Pedri and Ilaix Moriba, Dest is the next young star that is proving his mettle in Spain’s top flight.
With the acquisition of Frenkie de Jong from Ajax, Barca has a plan of creating a young team that can reign supreme for many years to come.
Ronald Koeman will be hoping that the youngsters of Barcelona can do enough to give Messi the hope of staying to win trophies with his boyhood club.
The former Ajax player scored twice with one goal being assisted by Messi himself. Dest’s goals make him the second-youngest American to score two or more goals in a game in Europe’s top-five leagues behind Matthew Hoppe.
Ousmane Dembele seems to be another young star who is slowly but surely reaching his potential. Injuries were his biggest enemy but he has remained fit for majority of this season.
The French winger’s good season with the Catalans has led to him getting a call-up to the national squad where he will partner fellow Barca teammate Antoine Griezmann.