Goals galore for Messi

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

MADRID: Just last week Lionel Messi,

was made to re­call the mo­ment that could have changed the world’s out­look on his 2014 sea­son and en­hanced even fur­ther the legacy of a player re­garded as the best of all-time by var­i­ous com­men­ta­tors, play­ers and coaches.

Cap­tain­ing Ar­gentina in their first World Cup fi­nal for 24 years, Messi had the sort of half-chance he has made look rou­tine in scor­ing over 400 ca­reer goals to put his coun­try in front two min­utes into the sec­ond-half, but, on his trusted left foot, pulled his shot inches wide of Manuel Neuer’s far post.

“If I had scored that goal in the fi­nal, they would have said I had a spec­tac­u­lar World Cup,” Messi told Ar­gen­tine news­pa­per

In­stead, his elec­tion as the best player at the tour­na­ment was widely de­rided, many sug­gest­ing the fact the award was spon­sored by one of his prin­ci­pal pro­mot­ers Adi­das was a con­ve­nient co­in­ci­dence.

For a lesser light the ex­pe­ri­ence could have had a more last­ing ef­fect. Yet, less than five months on, Messi has put his legacy back up for de­bate by break­ing two his­toric records to be­come the top goalscorer in both the his­tory of La Liga and the Cham­pi­ons League at just 27 years of age.

His hat-trick in a 5-1 de­mo­li­tion of Sevilla on Satur­day saw him pass Telmo Zarra’s 59-year-old record mark to take his tally to 253 goals in 289 games.

Just four days later it was Real Madrid legend Raul who saw his Cham­pi­ons League record of 71 goals over­hauled by the Ar­gen­tine with another hat-trick, this time against APOEL Nicosia, to take him to 74 Cham­pi­ons League goals hav­ing played 51 fewer games than the Spa­niard.

“He is a unique and un­re­peat­able player,” gushed Barca boss Luis En­rique.

How­ever, the high­est praise was lav­ished by the ar­chi­tect of much of what Messi has achieved at the Cata­lan club, Pep Guardi­ola. “He has bro­ken a record that ev­ery­one thought was un­break­able. It will take another 600 years be­fore his record is bro­ken,” said the Bay­ern Mu­nich boss.

The irony is his Cham­pi­ons League record may not last long. Messi’s claim to be the best ever is al­ways counter-ar­gued by the feats of Madrid ri­val Cris­tiano Ron­aldo. The Por­tuguese is just four goals be­hind Messi’s mark. – Sapa-AFP

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