Lionel Messi marked his 700th game for Barcelona by scoring his 613th goal on Wednesday as Barcelona claimed top spot in Group F with a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund.
Messi becomes the only second Barcelona player to reach the landmark after Xavi Hernández, who made 767 appearances. No one else in the history of the club has won more than Messi, who has won 34 trophies so far.
The Argentine celebrated his anniversary in a grand style by putting Barcelona two up before half-time, and working out a pair of assists for Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann in a total victory at Camp Nou.
“He was incredible. It’s all about what he does and when he does it. It was a performance to put us through,” said Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde.
England’s Jadon Sancho fired into the top corner for a late Dortmund consolation but the visitors were largely disappointing and now face a fight with Inter Milan to make it out of Group F.
Dortmund will have to beat Slavia Prague at home in a fortnight’s time while hoping on Barcelona to play a strong enough team to avoid defeat at the San Siro, eight days before the season’s first Clasico at home to Real Madrid.
“We got the most difficult group in the competition in my opinion. We are through with a game to spare, first in the group, and for the players that means a lot,” said Valverde.
While Real Madrid have hit their stride in recent weeks, Barcelona have stumbled, even if the results have been good enough to remain top of La Liga on goal difference.
Thanks to Lionel Messi, who now has 10 goals in his last nine games, a timely surge into form ahead of the announcement of the Ballon d’Or in Paris on Monday, for which his greatest threat is Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk.
Source: AFP, CNN, SurgeZirc UK Sport