Lionel Messi reached another incredible landmark on Sunday as he scored his 400th LaLiga goal in Barcelona’s game against Eibar at Camp Nou.
Lionel Messi became the first player to score 400 LaLiga goals on Sunday, a feat that earned praise from Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde.
After an unusually quiet first 45 minutes, Messi burst into life after the restart and claimed his milestone goal – his 13th in eight appearances against Eibar.
Luis Suarez had given Barca the lead with their only shot on target in the first half, and he doubled his tally six minutes after Messi’s moment in the spotlight with a composed finish from a tight angle.
That was enough to seal a sixth win in a row for Barca in the league, and a ninth successive over Eibar since their promotion to the top flight.
Messi took up more of a playmaker role in the opening exchanges and created half-chances that Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba were unable to convert.
Suarez showed them how it should be done in the 19th minute after a slick interchange with Philippe Coutinho opened up the Eibar defence, the Uruguay international finding the bottom corner with unerring accuracy.
Despite falling behind, Eibar continued to push forward and Sergi Enrich should have done better from Ruben Pena’s cross, however the striker headed wide of Marc Andre ter Stegen’s goal.
Coutinho felt he should have had a penalty minutes before the break but his claims were waved away despite Pena’s clumsy tackle inside the area.
After the lacklustre opening salvo, Barca had much more urgency to their game after the break and eight minutes into the second period Messi got his landmark goal.
Having received the ball from Suarez, the five-time Ballon D’Or winner made himself some space before firing low under Asier Riesgo.
Suarez then notched his 14th league goal of the campaign to extend Barcelona’s advantage, before Ter Stegen needed to be alert to keep out Pablo De Blasis’ close-range header.
Ernesto Valverde introduced reported Manchester City target Ousmane Dembele with 18 minutes to play, but despite looking lively he was unable to stretch Barca’s lead on what ultimately turned out to be a comfortable victory despite the league leaders being far from their fluent best.
After seeing their advantage cut to two points by Atletico Madrid earlier on Sunday, Barca restored their five-point cushion with ease on Messi’s historic night. For Eibar the defeat means they have failed to win their last six LaLiga clashes, and sit just three points above the relegation zone.
Ernesto Valverde paid tribute to Lionel Messi after the Barcelona striker registered his 400th LaLiga goal in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Eibar.
Messi became only the second player to score 400 goals across Europe’s top five leagues with his 53rd-minute strike, the Argentina international making himself some room before finding the bottom corner.
He joins long-time adversary Cristiano Ronaldo in reaching the milestone, although Messi’s have come in one league and for one club
Valverde was running out of superlatives to use when asked about the forward’s record, while also mentioning his value in other areas of the pitch.
“Messi’s numbers are stratospheric,” he told a media conference. “They are incredible.
“Not only the goals, but also what he creates. He’s from another galaxy.”
Messi’s landmark strike came in between a Luis Suarez double, the Uruguayan taking himself to 14 league goals for the season after scoring for the sixth successive match against Eibar.
However, Barca were far from their fluent best and Valverde paid tribute to the visitors’ organisation.
“They closed down very well,” he added. “From the first minute until the last. They are the best team in LaLiga [at doing that].
“The difficult thing was to connect with our forwards, they [Eibar] closed the game very well and it made it very difficult for us.
“Once we did, we were a dangerous team.”
The Argentina international has had a remarkable impact on Spanish football since making his debut in the 2004-05 campaign, and he becomes the first player to reach 400 goals in LaLiga.
Having come through Barca’s academy ranks and burst on to the scene as a teenager, Messi has gone from strength to strength and enjoyed astonishing levels of consistency in Spanish football.
Although his goals grab the headlines, he has shown himself to be so much more than just a goalscorer during his time in Barcelona, with his dribbling, passing and work rate making him arguably the perfect footballer.
Much of his career has been dominated by a personal duel with Cristiano Ronaldo during his time with Real Madrid, but Messi’s records speak for themselves.
Having reached another milestone with his effort against Eibar, we take a look at the Opta stats behind Messi’s sensational haul of 400 LaLiga goals…
2 – Messi is the second player to score 400 goals in Europe’s top five leagues. Ronaldo, who has 409, was first.
1 – Messi is the first player from Europe’s big five leagues to reach 400 goals for the same club.
435 – Messi has reached this latest landmark in astonishing time, needing just 435 matches. By comparison, Ronaldo needed another 63 matches to get there.
29 – The Argentinian superstar has scored more LaLiga goals than 29 clubs in the division’s history.
56.98 – While Messi’s minutes-per-goal ratio of 83 this term is an exceptional record, it is some way off his personal best of 56.98 in the 2012-13 season, when he netted 46 times in 32 LaLiga games.
50 – Messi’s best LaLiga season in terms of goals was the 2011-12 campaign, when he found the net 50 times.
31 – His record of 31 hat-tricks (27 trebles and four four-goal hauls) is the second most in LaLiga history. Only Ronaldo (34) managed more.
25 – Messi’s favoured opposition in LaLiga in Sevilla, having scored 25 goals against them in 24 matches. In the same amount of games against Real Madrid, he has converted 18 times.
29 – Luis Suarez has set up more of Messi’s 400 than anyone else, claiming 29 assists for the Barca talisman.
105 – Messi has a remarkable habit of scoring at decisive moments in games. No fewer than 105 of his goals have come in the final 14 minutes of the match.