Messi smashes La Liga goalscoring record
The Argentina international equalled Telmo Zarra's previous tally of 251 goals with a sublime free kick before then adding two more to set a new mark
Lionel Messi smashed the all-time Liga goalscoring record with a sublime hat-trick as Barcelona slaughtered Sevilla 5-1 at Camp Nou on Saturday night.
The prolific Argentine took the his tally of Spanish top-flight goals to 253 with a treble either side of the break, moving past Telmo Zarra's record of 251 that had stretched back to 1955.
Messi, who made his Liga debut in 2004, has achieved the feat in 289 appearances - 11 more than the legendary Athletic Bilbao forward Zarra.
The 27-year-old found the net with a delightful first-half free-kick, placing it into the top corner to move level, before claiming the landmark outright in the second period as he capped a memorable evening.
His first La Liga goal came as a 17-year-old against Albacete in May 2005, and he had not scored in the league since netting at home to Eibar on October 18.
But his wait for another career milestone ended in style as Barca continued their title push with a resounding success.
After Messi's superb set-piece had ensured he would dominate the headlines, Jordi Alba's own goal at the start of the second half brought Sevilla level.
Barca were ahead again in the 49th minute as Neymar headed past Beto.
Ivan Rakitic, who captained Sevilla to Europa League glory last season, nodded in with 25 minutes to go to make it 3-1, but the day belonged to Messi.
He slid a shot home with 18 minutes left to finally overtake Zarra, before completing his hat-trick and rounding off a stunning performance with a solo goal in the 78th minute.
Such a comprehensive win always looked likely as Barcelona put Sevilla under plenty of early pressure.
Initially, they struggled to find a way past Beto, and Messi was presented with an opportunity he would have been expect to bury in the eighth minute.
On this occasion, he fired a tame effort straight at Sevilla's Portuguese goalkeeper before Luis Suarez was also denied three minutes later.
But normal order was restored after 21 minutes, as Messi took centre stage. His sublime free-kick from just outside the area curled into the top-left corner.
Luis Enrique's men failed to seize the initiative from there, although Sevilla could not make the most of their increased possession as Carlos Bacca continued to look isolated in attack.
Barca should have gone into half-time 2-0 up, but Daniel Carrico produced a last-ditch block to deny Alba in the 44th minute and then, from the resulting corner, Beto kept Neymar at bay with his left foot.
Sevilla looked bright at the start of the second half and they were level in the 47th minute as Vitolo skipped past two challenges down the left and saw his cross turned in by Alba.
They were on level terms for just a few moments, though, as Neymar steered home Xavi's deep free-kick with a fine glancing header.
Sevilla's forays forward in search of an equaliser ultimately proved to be their undoing, as Barca soon netted their third on the counter-attack, Rakitic heading in Suarez's cross to effectively end his former team's chances.
He chose not to celebrate, but Messi offered Sevilla no such courtesy - and rightly so - as he claimed his place in the history books.
The Argentina star slotted in an easy finish after good work from Neymar in the 72nd minute, delighting the Camp Nou faithful.
Messi then added Barca's fifth and his third to round off an historic night, jinking past a couple of challenges before firing low after a clever interchange with Neymar.
Barcelona 5-1 Sevilla Watch All Goals