Another game, another record: Messi sets unique milestone as Barcelona rout Alaves in La Liga finale
Barcelona suffered the agony of seeing their two-year reign as Spanish champions come to an end on Thursday when they slumped to a home defeat against Osasuna and Real Madrid beat Villarreal, but Quique Setien's team were looking to end the league season on a high as they traveled to struggling Alaves.
The visitors got off to a quick start, rattling the woodwork three times – including from a curling left-footed effort from the edge of the box from Messi – before they made the breakthrough in the 24th minute through teenage sensation Fati.
Messi was the orchestrator, dinking a cross into the box from the right – via a slight deflection – which Fati swept home for the 17-year-old's seventh league goal of the season.
It was a milestone for Messi, who recorded a 21st assist of the current La Liga campaign – moving him one ahead of former teammate Xavi as the outright record-holder for a single season.
Lionel Messi makes it 21 assists for the season, overtaking Xavi to set a new La Liga record 🙌 pic.twitter.com/lNjtWQ32SB— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 19, 2020
It wasn't long before Messi himself got on the scoresheet, collecting a Riqui Puig pass and firing low into the corner in the 34th minute.
Barcelona added a third before the break, with Luis Suarez heading home a Jordi Alba cross, before Nelson Semedo produced a fine finish around the hour mark and Messi completed the rout 15 minutes from time, firing home on the half-volley for his second goal of the match.
The strikes moved Messi onto 25 goals for the season, further in front of French hitman Karim Benzema in the Pichichi Trophy stakes for La Liga top-scorer, with the Real Madrid forward on 21 goals.
Messi to finish as Assist leader in La liga for the 6th time.🥇2019/20🥇2018/19🥇2017/18🥇2015/16🥇2014/15🥇2010/11If he wins the Pichichi, he'd have won Top Scorer 7 times and Assist leader 6 times. 🤯🧠 Genius. pic.twitter.com/CThZtqkefp— Barcelona Worldwide (@BarcaWorldwide) July 19, 2020
Last weekend Messi joined Thierry Henry as the only players this century to have registered 20 or more goals and assists in the same season.
Henry achieved the feat while at Arsenal, scoring 24 goals and providing 20 assists in the 2002/03 Premier League season.