Lionel Messi reached another milestone in his career while Neymar continues to show that his association with the Argentine is making amends. Both were fundamental in FC Barcelona’s 6-0 win over Granada on Saturday.
The Argentine superstar obtained a brace and now finds himself with 401 career goals in his illustrious career. His goals in the 61st and 81st saw him reach his milestone while he is still 27 years of age and is now three goals away from reaching the legendary Telmo Zarra as the league’s all-time scorer with 251 goals.
Barça came out of the gates slowly and were almost shocked when El Arabi’s shot in the seventh minute hit the crossbar. That opportunity came courtesy of a Jerémy Mathieu mistake that could have spelled disaster for the club early on. Two minutes later, Munir missed an open chance on goal that continued to show the team’s woes offensively from the last two matches where they were only able to muster up one goal.
All of this didn’t matter to Luis Enrique’s side in the first half when Neymar took advantage of an errant defensive pass by Nyom and put the ball past Roberto to give Barça the lead after 26 minutes; the first of his hat-trick on the evening.
Still, with control of the match and more clarity through that phase of the match, Granada were still not bereft of opportunities, yet they were too forgiving and paid dearly. In the 42nd minute of play, Success came into the area and headed a ball over Claudio Bravo’s goal, coming extremely close to equalizing before going to halftime. That missed chance proved to be costly as it was Ivan Rakitic making it 2-0 just moments later with a fine header that was courtesy of a Messi cross. Neymar would make it 3-0 moments later as he found himself benefitted from an association between Munir and Messi near the area.
After Messi’s first goal, a classic combination between Xavi and Dani Alves, Neymar would make it 5-0 after he received yet another assist from Messi in front of goal.
Then Messi would cap off his 401st goal with a quintessential Messianic strike. The goal brought back many Messi-like qualities. In that sequence, he stole the ball from Murillo, attacked goal and then sleekly put the ball in the back of the net past Roberto. That goal put to an end an disastrous night for the Granada goalkeeper who was harassed incessantly from the beginning of the encounter.
Claudio Bravo also reached 540 minutes and is now 20 minutes away from establishing a new mark for most minutes without conceding a goal to start a season. That record established by Pello Artola back in 1976, could be broken when Barça face Rayo Vallecano next Saturday.
Bravo is still a long ways from the team record for most minutes as Miguel Reina still has it with 824 minutes.
Barça will now head to Paris to face Paris-St. Germain over at Parc des Princes as they resume their Champions League campaign while Messi looks to get closer to Raúl as that competition’s all-time leading goalscorer.