Messi notches 400 Laliga goals

Lionel Messi scoring Barcelona's second goal against Eibar at the Nou Camp on Sunday. It was his 400th LaLiga goal after just 435 games.
Lionel Messi scoring Barcelona's second goal against Eibar at the Nou Camp on Sunday. It was his 400th LaLiga goal after just 435 games.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The Barcelona star reaches landmark with league's next highest scorer 89 goals behind

BARCELONA • Lionel Messi has been called many things in his career, from genius to greatest of all time (Goat) and, on Sunday, he added "from another galaxy" to the ever-growing list of superlatives tossed his way.

The Barcelona talisman terrorised Eibar to rack up his 400th LaLiga goal in just 435 games - a remarkable ratio coach Ernesto Valverde labelled as "monstrous".

He drove the ball home after being teed up by Luis Suarez, who added a brace either side of Messi extending his record as LaLiga's all-time goalscorer, with the Spanish champions taking apart their opponents 3-0 at home for a five-point cushion at the top of the table.

Incredibly, it was one of his quieter nights at the Nou Camp despite increasing his lead over rival and the league's second-highest scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo, to 89 goals.

While Ronaldo, now at Juventus, still owns a better goals-to-game ratio, with his 311 strikes coming in 292 matches, the night was all about Messi even though Suarez and Philippe Coutinho also picked up the plaudits.

Valverde told reporters: "It's easy to say, but you have to score them one after the other, it's a long-term job. His numbers are stratospheric, incredible. Messi is an extraordinary player because he is not only a scorer. It's everything that he creates around him too."

Barcelona saluted his feat, tweeting crown and goat emojis and calling him "his goat-ness", while their beaten opponents also tweeted a show of respect for his achievement.

Messi is now only the second player to notch 400 or more goals in European football's top-five leagues after Ronaldo (409), but has reached the milestone having played 63 fewer games.

In Seville, Real Madrid beat Betis 2-1 courtesy of a last-gasp free kick from Dani Ceballos, who came back to haunt his former club off the bench, to remain 10 points adrift of Barcelona.

Luka Modric had opened the scoring but Betis were in the ascendancy after Sergio Canales poked in a second-half equaliser against his old side.

But Ceballos, who left Betis for Madrid two years ago and was heavily booed after being introduced, snatched the dramatic victory two minutes from time.

Although he scored on his first free-kick attempt for Real, the former Betis academy product admitted to mixed feelings afterwards as "he did not expect this reception".

He told TV channel Movistar: "It's a field that has given me everything. I'm happy, but I leave with the bittersweet feeling of not having the affection of (those) who were my fans for so long."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2019, with the headline 'Messi notches 400 Laliga goals'. Print Edition | Subscribe