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Messi scores in 500th game for Barcelona

Photo courtesy: AP
Photo courtesy: AP

The stage was set and the magician delivered. Lionel Messi, playing in his 500th game for Catalan side Barcelona, helped his team breeze past Real Betis in a 4-0 demolition that could have been much worse for the visitors.

Barcelona were without a win in two games, having drawn both, but Luis Enrique’s team put on a fine display to end the end the year on a high – and with a record-breaking goals tally. Barcelona have now scored 180 goals in the year, bettering Real Madrid’s 178 last year.

“It was a spectacular year,” Messi said. “It will be complicated to better this, but like always we will try to do so.”

Messi won a penalty, after colliding with Betis goalkeeper Adan. While he was left prone on the ground, with a silent Camp Nou watching on, Neymar stepped up to the spot, smashed his shot against the woodwork, and was relieved to see Heiko Westermann bundling the ball into his won net.

“It was a strange game. I don’t know if it was a penalty or not, when I was hit I didn’t realise what had happened,” Messi said later.

The man of the occassion, though, found the net a few minutes later. Messi played Neymar through, who reversed the pass back to Messi, for the Barcelona’s leading scorer to rack up his 425th goal for the club.

There was plenty of drama left in the game. Betis coach Pepe Mel was sent off for unrelenting protests, Luis Suarez scored a brace in the second half to become La Liga’s top striker with 15 goals, and Messi, Neymar and Dani Alves all hit the post.

The result leaves Barcelona on top of the La Liga table, ahead of Atletico Madrid only on goal difference.

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