Lionel Messi matches Xavi appearance record for Barcelona as Argentine repeats LaLiga feat with brilliant brace against Alaves
Lionel Messi notched a stunning double for Barcelona in a thumping 5-1 win against Alaves on the night he matched Xavi’s haul of 505 LaLiga appearances for the club.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner was named in Ronald Koeman’s starting XI for Saturday’s clash at Camp Nou – and he repaid his manager’s faith with a performance to remember.
The Argentine may be 33 now, but his return of 17 goals in 27 matches across all competitions this season proves he still has plenty left in the tank before he hangs up his boots.
Koeman’s men had the opportunity to move up to second with a win – and they didn’t pass up that chance.
Trincao gave the hosts the lead just before the half-hour mark, and Messi thought he had doubled Barca’s lead seven minutes later – only to see his strike ruled out for offside by VAR.
Messi wasn’t to be denied though, scoring a quite sumptuous goal to successfully double his side’s lead just before the interval.
Picking up the ball on the right-hand side he drifted inside past a defender effortlessly before firing a brilliant left-footed drive in off the post.
Luis Rioja reduced the deficit on 57 minutes, but Trincao found the net again after 74 minutes as Barcelona regained their two-goal lead.
Messi capped off a vintage display with an absolute rocket of a strike from long range to put the hosts 4-1 up, with Junior Firpo notching his first goal of the season to put a gloss on the scoreline.
Messi has eight goals in his last five league appearances, while Barca are unbeaten in their last 12 games – picking up seven successive LaLiga victories.
It’s also the first time the legendary forward has scored in five consecutive LaLiga games since April 2019.
It was also a night to remember for 18-year-old midfielder Iliax Moriba after becoming the youngster player to provide an assist in his first-ever La Liga appearance.