Messi breaks world record as Barca beat Deportivo
Barcelona: Lionel Messi`s late strike for Barcelona at home to Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday night saw the Argentine set a new world record for consecutive league goals in the top flight.
The goal, Barca`s second in the 2-0 win over the Galicians, means Messi has netted in 17 straight Liga games, bettering the previous mark of 16, set by Teodor Peterek.
Peterek had scored 22 goals in 16 consecutive league matches in the Polish First Division way back in 1937-38.
Messi, who recently surpassed 200 goals in La Liga, now has 40 in the Primera Division this term, a total which would have been enough to win the Pichichi prize for the top scorer in every single season except the last one - which he himself claimed.
Brazil striker Ronaldo previously held the record for scoring in consecutive games in La Liga with 10 during his time with Barca, a mark long since surpassed by the Argentine.
As for the match itself, the Catalans recovered from their 2-1 reverse at Real Madrid last weekend, as Alexis Sanchez struck the opening goal of the game during a dominant first half for the hosts, who should have been out of sight by half-time.
But despite the Blaugrana`s tempo dropping considerably during the second half, Deportivo were not able to add any sort of offensive punch, and Lionel Messi emerged from the bench to clinch the game with a well-worked goal with two minutes remaining.
Messi was joined on the bench by Andres Iniesta, as interim coach Jordi Roura looked to rotate his squad ahead of their crucial Champions League clash with AC Milan in midweek.
All the early momentum belonged to the Blaugrana. Daniel Alves was the first to test Daniel Aranzubia in the visitors’ goal with a low shot that was turned away at the near post.
The Brazilian then put Cesc Fabregas in the clear with a clever pass over the top, but after bringing the ball down beautifully, the midfielder made a hash of his finish and blasted over the bar.
David Villa was denied by an excellent challenge from Silvio, before Aranzubia was called into action again to divert a deflected Cristian Tello effort onto the post, as Barca kept piling on the pressure.
With 24 minutes on the clock, Villa spurned a golden opportunity when he clipped straight at Aranzubia from point-blank range, with Tello also denied by the Deportivo keeper from the rebound.
It seemed like Barca would end the first half frustrated but, six minutes before the interval, they found the breakthrough when Alves’ exquisite cross was nodded in by Sanchez despite the best efforts of Aranzubia.
Barca’s momentum tailed off considerably in the second half, as Deportivo’s revitalised ranks at the back held firm, rendering their tiki-taka game impotent.
Roura responded by introducing Messi for Villa just past the hour mark, with Iniesta soon to follow as Thiago made way.
But chances remained at a premium as the game approached its closing stages. Carles Puyol received the first booking of the game with 20 minutes remaining for coming in late on Javier Camunas.
With just over a quarter of an hour to go, Aranzubia pulled off another fine save to deny substitute Iniesta from close in, with Messi’s rebound correctly chalked off for offside.
But with two minutes to go, a scintillating combination between Sanchez and Messi saw the latter dink the ball stylishly over Aranzubia to finally wrap up the points for the hosts after what was a poor second half.