Barcelona defeated Valencia by 4 goals to 2 in a thrilling contest at the Camp Nou on Sunday evening.
Lionel Messi made it 41 goals in 40 games for Barça in all competitions this season as they beat Valencia to move back to within two points of La Liga leaders Real Madrid.
Lionel Messi has now scored 40+ goals across all competitions in EIGHT consecutive seasons at club level.
Out of this world. 👽 pic.twitter.com/2UYsfWjNM6
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 19, 2017
It’s the eighth consecutive season he has scored 40 and there was a helping hand from Manchester City loanee Eliaquim Mangala as he did it.
Mangala had given Valencia a shock lead with a header from a corner but he then conceded a penalty – which Messi scored – and got sent off, as Barcelona came back to win the game.
Messi had a rare day off last weekend as Barcelona were beaten by Deportivo but he was back to his best and even forced a yellow card, meaning he’ll miss the team’s next game against Granada and not the tougher encounter with Sevilla four days later.
Messi had Barcelona’s first chance but Fabian Orellana hooked his goalbound shot off the line. Luis Suarez had unselfishly teed Messi up after doing well to keep Samuel Umtiti’s pass in play. Suarez was clearly up for this one – less switched on was Neymar.
Not for the first time in his Barcelona career has he spent a couple of minutes off the pitch changing his boots. Barça might have scored had he been on – Messi and Luis Suarez just missing that extra man as they attacked Diego Alves’ goal.
Playing against his parent club, Munir El Haddadi was next to go close. He timed his run brilliantly ghosting away from Gerard Pique and then headed himself into space and clear but Marc-Andre Ter Stegen came out and the ball was deflected wide for a corner. It was a bad miss from the on-loan Barcelona forward but it led to the opening goal.
The corner came in from the right and Mangala rose above Sergio Busquets to head into the far corner past a helpless Ter Stegen.
Barca were level within minutes as Neymar took a quick throw and Suarez let the ball bounce once before dispatching it brilliantly past Diego Alves.
Mangala then clattered into Messi on the edge of the penalty area. Hearts were in mouths as the Argentinian stayed down in some discomfort. Mangala was booked and when Messi got to his feet it was Valencia hearts in mouths as his free-kick shaved Alves’ bar.
If that caution from Mangala was more orange than yellow it wasn’t long before amber changed to red.
Suarez got away from him in the area and he pulled his shirt. Suarez pointed to his shirt, the referee pointed to the spot and Mangala heard the Nou Camp roar for Messi’s converted penalty as he was walking down the tunnel.
Munir then went and did the inevitable by doing his chances of returning in the summer no harm in converting Carlos Soler‘s pass to make it 2-2 with the last kick of the first half.
Barcelona started the second half well and Alves denied Neymar with his legs but there was no denying Messi moments later.
Andres Iniesta slid the pass through to him and he edged around substitute Aymen Abdennour before beating the Valencia keeper at his near post for goal No 41 of the season.
Valencia introduced Simone Zaza in place of Munir and while there was only one goal in it there was hope but former Valencia midfielder Andre Gomes put paid to that tapping in the fourth.