By 90Min
December 17, 2018

Lionel Messi became the first player this calendar year to reach the 50 goal mark, after netting a hat-trick for Barcelona against Levante on Sunday night.

The Argentine provided Luis Suarez with a quite extraordinary assist for the game's opener, before taking control of the affair with three scores collected between the 43rd and 60th minute. Gerard Pique rounded off the 5-0 win with a cherry-on-top goal in the 88th minute, provided by - you guessed it - Leo Messi, after some mazy running from Philippe Coutinho. 

The result meant Barça retained their status as La Liga table-toppers, with 34 points from 16 games, three points ahead of nearest challengers Sevilla in second. It also meant that Messi became the first player in 2018 to reach 50 goals - a feat he has managed in eight of the last nine years. 

The two assists were equally important, and earned him recognition for being the inaugural player in Europe's top five leagues to reach double figures in both goals (14) and assists (10).

Now La Liga's leading goalscorer, three ahead of teammate Luis Suarez and Girona's Middlesbrough-reject Christian Stuani, Sunday's hat-trick was Messi's 49th in his career. 

Messi has now scored more than Valencia's entire team combined (13) and has been directly involved in the same amount of goals scored by Real Madrid this season (24). 

Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Messi is also now the top scorer across Europe's top five leagues, and is second in the Champions League tables behind only Robert Lewandowski. 

Up next for football's (evidently) fifth best player is a clash with Celta Vigo at the Camp Nou on Saturday, before he gets a welcome two-week Christmas break.

You May Like