Messi scores 400th goal in Span­ish league

The Korea Times - - SPORTS -

BARCELONA (AP) — That’s 400 and count­ing.

Lionel Messi took his all-time Span­ish league scor­ing record to 400 goals on Sun­day after con­tribut­ing to a 3-0 win over Eibar to keep de­fend­ing cham­pion Barcelona com­fort­ably at the top.

Messi scored Barcelona’s sec­ond goal shortly after half­time to reach a mile­stone in the com­pe­ti­tion after 435 league matches. For­mer Real Madrid ri­val Cris­tiano Ron­aldo is sec­ond all-time in La Liga with 311 goals.

In all com­pe­ti­tions, Barcelona says the 31-year-old Messi has scored an as­ton­ish­ing 575 goals in 658 ap­pear­ances.

“He is from an­other galaxy,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. “They are in­cred­i­ble num­bers. But he does much more than score goals, he also does so much to gen­er­ate scor­ing chances for oth­ers.”

Barcelona’s all-time top scorer got the land­mark goal in the 53rd minute after Luis Suarez passed to him in­side Eibar’s area. The Ar­gen­tine did the rest by open­ing an an­gle around a de­fender and driv­ing in a low left-footed shot.

It was also Messi’s league-lead­ing 17th league goal and his 23rd goal over­all this sea­son.

“He should be proud,” said Suarez, who scored Barcelona’s other two goals. “Game after game he shows what a great player he is. I am happy for him and for the his­tory that he is writ­ing for this club.”

Barcelona stayed five points ahead of sec­ond-placed Atletico Madrid, which edged Le­vante 1-0 thanks to a penalty from An­toine Griez­mann, as the league reached its mid­way point.

Real Madrid lost Karim Ben­zema to a right-hand in­jury in a 2-1 win at Real Betis to stay 10 points back in fourth place.

Hapy Sime­one

After 90-plus min­utes of prowl­ing the side­line, yelling at his play­ers and stok­ing his fans, Atletico Madrid coach Diego Sime­one nor­mally hur­ries off the pitch when the fi­nal whis­tle sounds.

But after the vic­tory over Le­vante, Sime­one took time to em­brace each of his play­ers — a show of ap­pre­ci­a­tion for their ef­forts that kept Atletico in the ti­tle chase.

“I felt the need to hug them,” Sime­one said. “I con­grat­u­lated them be­cause they main­tained the same level of play through­out the en­tire match.”

De­spite only scor­ing one goal, Sime­one called it “one of, if not our best, per­for­mances of the sea­son.”

True to Sime­one’s de­fense-first ap­proach, Atletico sti­fled a Le­vante at­tack that is among the best in the league.

Griez­mann did the rest, scor­ing his team-lead­ing ninth league goal of the sea­son when he fired a spot kick over Le­vante goal­keeper Oier Olaz­a­bal in the 57th minute fol­low­ing a hand­ball by de­fender Nikola Vukce­vic.

Ce­bal­los to res­cue

Dani Ce­bal­los was greeted with jeers when he went on as a late Real Madrid sub­sti­tute to face his for­mer club, Real Betis.

But he si­lenced the crowd, and saved his cur­rent club from an­other set­back, when he sent a free kick through a gap in the de­fen­sive wall to grab the win with two min­utes re­main­ing.

“I was ea­ger to show what I can do,” Ce­bal­los said.

Luka Mo­dric struck from dis­tance to open the scor­ing for Madrid, only for Ser­gio Canales to equal­ize in the sec­ond half.

AFP-Yon­hap

Barcelona’s Ar­gen­tinian for­ward Lionel Messi cel­e­brates his goal dur­ing the Span­ish League foot­ball match against SD Eibar at the Camp Nou sta­dium in Barcelona, Sun­day.

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