‘Mon­strous’ Messi scores 400th La Liga goal, sends Barca five points clear

The Borneo Post - - SPORT -

MADRID: 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.

“It’s mon­strous,” said Valverde, af­ter the 3- 0 vic­tory. “It’s easy to say but you have to score them one af­ter the other, it’s a longterm job.

“His num­bers are strato­spheric, in­cred­i­ble. He is from an­other galaxy.”

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.

“There is a lot of time left,” Valverde said. “It is a good cush­ion but noth­ing is done yet.”

Real Madrid won too, beat­ing Real Betis, to en­sure Spain’s big three all pre­vailed in the same round for only the fourth time this sea­son. Real re­main 10 points adrift of Barcelona.

Messi, mean­while, ex­tends his own hefty lead as the di­vi­sion’s all­time 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.

In fact, it 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.

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. — AFP

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