Lionel Messi scored his 400th La Liga goal on Sunday, a total his coach Ernesto Valverde called “monstrous”, as Barcelona terrorised Eibar to reclaim their five-point cushion at the top of the table.
Messi drove the ball into the bottom corner after being teed up by Luis Suarez, who added two goals to his own tally either side of the Argentinian marking another historic record at the Camp Nou.Victory saw Valverde’s side restore their advantage over Atletico Madrid, who had briefly cut the gap to two points after beating Levante earlier in the day.
Messi, meanwhile, extends his own hefty lead as the division’s all-time top scorer, which currently stands at 89 goals, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo, now at Juventus in Italy, owns a better goals-to-game ratio, with his 311 strikes coming in 292 matches. Messi’s quadruple century arrived in his 435th.
At 31, the Barcelona captain is unlikely to make 500 goals but it is far from unreachable. He has 17 in the league already this season and is on course to finish top scorer for a sixth time.
In fact, this was one of Messi’s quieter nights in terms of performance and in another team it might have been Suarez or Philippe Coutinho picking up the plaudits.
Suarez assisted Messi, applied a classy finish and was on the end of a scintillating team move for Barca’s first.Coutinho was the provider for that one and delivered a sparkling display to appease those doubting his future at the club.
After returning from injury in December, the Brazilian has endured a spell out of Valverde’s preferred starting line-up but he converted a penalty against Levante in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, and was arguably man of the match here.
He alone supplied three passes in the build-up to Suarez’s opener. Arthur Melo started it, playing a one-two with Coutinho and then into the feet of Sergio Busquets.
Busquets pinged the ball left to Coutinho, who twice exchanged with Suarez before the Uruguayan, off balance, found the far corner.
The third goal was simple, however, as Sergi Roberto took a throw and freed the scuttling Suarez. With the goalkeeper out, he looked up and chipped the ball into the net.