Just over a month ago there were actually fears that Lionel Messi’s love affair with ‘The Beautiful Game’ was coming to an end. “It’s as if he has been married for 15 years to football and got bored of it,” mused former Barcelona assistant coach Angel Cappa.
If he is bored, that would only be because it is all so ridiculously easy for him, as he so thrillingly underlined at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night. But there was certainly no evidence of a lack of passion in what was yet another sensational performance against Real Madrid.
After creating the opener for Andres Iniesta, the Argentine then made it 2-2 with a composed finish before quickly reclaiming the ball from the net and sprinting back to halfway to restart the game as quickly as possible.
Messi equalised again midway through the second half, this time from the penalty spot after Neymar had been felled in the area after latching onto the most sublime through-ball from the Blaugrana No.10.
The 26-year-old then converted another spot-kick late in the game to earn Barca a vital 4-3 win that drew Tata Martino’s under-pressure side to within a point of Madrid and new leaders Atletico and, as Goal Espana‘s Miguel Churruca explains, strengthen Messi’s claims as the greatest player ever to grace the Clasico.
“It was another stunning performance by the four-time Ballon d’Or winner,” he enthuses.
“By scoring the first one of his three goals, Messi became the all-time record goalscorer in the Clasico, overtaking Real Madrid icon Alfredo di Stefano.
“His second then saw him move ahead of Hugo Sanchez and into second place in La Liga’s all-time record goalscorer standings.
“However, what was most significant was that Messi had once again produced another brilliant and convincing game when Barcelona really needed him most to keep them in the Liga title race.”
|Congratulations to Lionel Messi, Goal’s 253rd World Player of the Week winner!
Ciro Immobile – Torino
Goal’s Mark Doyle: “Now the joint-top scorer in Serie A after a hat-trick against Livorno that boosts his World Cup hopes.”
Ndombe Mubele – AS Vita Club
@Snezzy_90: “Today we say Messi#Respect Mubele#Respect.”
Goal’s Alec Fenn: “A treble against Kaizer Chiefs puts his side on the verge of the CAF Champions League group stage for the first time.”
Luis Suarez – Liverpool
@FRfootballMax: “4 – Only the fourth player to score 3+ hat-tricks in a single PL season.”
Goal’s Chris Myson: “After his heroics at Cardiff, the Uruguayan has now struck 28 times in just 25 Premier League outings this term.”
Yaya Toure – Manchester City
@OtiAdjei: “Watching Yaya Toure’s hat-trick again. What a player!!”
Goal’s Stefan Coerts: “A colossal performance against Fulham from the Ivorian, who now has 16 league goals this season – from midfield.”