Messi becomes Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer

Madrid, March 21: Star footballer Lionel Messi made history Tuesday night as he became the top scorer in the history of FC Barcelona with a hat-trick in his side’s 5-3 home win over Granada in the Spanish La Liga.

Messi scored his 232nd, 233rd and 234th goals for the Catalans as Barca won in the Camp Nou stadium, momentarily closing the gap on Real Madrid to five points in the league table.

As well as beating Cesar’s record, Messi has now scored 34 goals in the league this season, two more than Cristiano Ronaldo.

The lack of recovery time since last weekend’s matches meant both sides had to make use of their squads and that clearly helped Barca, who have a greater depth of talent than their rivals.

In a first half totally controlled by the home side, Isaac Cuenca was the key player with his crosses helping set up Xavi Hernandez for the opening goal and Messi for the second.

Messi’s 232nd goal allowed him to equal the record of legendary former player Cesar, until now the top scorer in the history of the club.

With Granada sitting deep, Barca should have had a penalty after a clear foul on winger Alexis Sanchez, who was clearly brought down in the visitors’ penalty area.

The game looked to be in the bag, but Barcelona had to change defender Adriano for a possible hamstring injury at halftime and 10 minutes after the break Granada pulled a goal back following a Diego Mainz header from a free kick that was poorly defended by the home side.

The home fans were stunned after 62 minutes when Granada drew level from the penalty spot after Dani Alves was harshly penalised for a possible foul on Dani Benitez. Siquiera sent Victor Valdes the wrong way from the spot.

That set the stage for Messi, who six minutes later scored his second of the night to again put Barca ahead. His magnificent chip made it 3-2.

He then turned provider with nine minutes remaining to help set up Cristian Tello to slot home after Julio Cesar had blocked his shot. All that was left was for Messi to complete his third of the night with another typical dribble past the Granada goalkeeper.

There was time for more drama as Siguiera scored a second penalty following a handball from Alves — an action which earned him a second yellow card and a sending off which will see him suspended for his side’s visit to Mallorca next weekend, Xinhua reports.

In Tuesday’s other game, Osasuna were held 0-0 at home to Getafe. The result takes Osasuna into sixth place in the table while Getafe are currently 11th.

IANS