Barcelona and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi, took further wings with the breaking of another record. Having scored goals in as many as 22 cities across Europe in Barcelona's continental campaigns over the years, Lionel Messi conquered yet another city as the Catalans breezed past their latest European opponents.
The Argentine scored a hat-trick against the most famous Cypriot club APOEL in Nicosia to help Barcelona register a comfortable 4-0 romp. It was Messi's 28th Barcelona hat-trick, and his fifth in the Champions League.
In a breath-taking display of finesse and control, the 27-year-old scored his first goal in the Cypriot capital in the 38th minute after his new team-mate Luis Suarez opened the scoring before the clock touched the half-an-hour mark. It was followed by two sumptuous goals in the 58th and 87th minutes.
Those three goals took his Champions League tally to 74 – a new record, thus breaking yet another goal scoring haul. The previous top-scorer was Real Madrid legend Raul Gonzalez with 71 goals from 142 games. Messi's record score comes in 91 games. In his last 12 Champions League outings, Messi has scored 15 goals.
Interestingly his greatest rival, Cristiano Ronaldo is already on 71 goals and the Portuguese equalled Raul's record after scoring against FC Basel.
Earlier, Messi became the top-scorer in La Liga with 253 goals, breaking six decade-old Telmo Zarra's record with a hat-trick in their 5-1 victory at home to Sevilla.
Messi scored his first Champions League goal four years ago and has since won the title three times with the Catalan club during the Pep Guardiola reign.
Messi vs Clubs:
Of these 74 goals, eight have come against Italian giants AC Milan, six each against Ajax, Arsenal, Bayer Leverkusen; four each against Spartak Moscow and Panathaniakos; three each against Celtic, Lyon, Shakhtar Donetsk, Copenhagen, Victoria Plzen, Stuttgart, APOEL; two each against Basel, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Dynamo Kiev, BATE, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Manchester City and one each against Werder Bremen, Rangers and Sporting Lisbon.
Messi in European cities:
The four-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored a whopping 38 Champions League goals at home, at the hallowed ground of Camp Nou, in Barcelona. He scored three goals each in the cities of Donesk (Ukraine), Glasgow (Scotland), Nicosia (Cyprus) and Prague (Czech Republic); two each in Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Madrid (Spain), Milan (Italy), Minsk (Belarus), Moscow (Russia), Paris (France), one each in Athens (Greece), Basel (Switzerland), Bremen (Germany) Copenhagen (Denmark), Kiev (Ukraine), Manchester (England), Leverkusen (Germany), Lisbon (Portugal), London (England) Lyon (France), Rome (Italy) and Stuttgart (Germany).
The Argentine has scored 43 of these goals in the group stage of the competition, 18 in the last 16 stage, nine in quarter-finals, two in semi-finals and another two in final. Those two goals in the finals are co-incidentally against English giants Manchester United in the 2009 and 2011 summit clashes in Rome and London.
In the world's most popular and biggest club competition, Messi has scored a five – against Bayer Leverkusen in 2012, a four – against Arsenal in 2010, three hat-tricks against Viktoria Plzen in 2011, Ajax in 2013 and APOEL in 2014.