Real Madrid may have ended Barcelona’s Spanish title reign in midweek, but Lionel Messi is poised to dethrone Cristiano Ronaldo as La Liga’s goal king after adding four more to his tally on Saturday.
The three-time world player of the year paid the ultimate tribute to Josep Guardiola in the coach’s final home game, which ended in a 4-0 victory over city rivals Espanyol.
The Argentina forward went into the match having already broken Gerd Muller’s longstanding record of 67 goals in a European season, and he took his tally to an incredible 72 ahead of next weekend’s closing league game at Real Betis.
Fifty of those have come in La Liga, putting him five clear of Ronaldo — who also scored in
It was an emotional night at the Camp Nou, where Guardiola said farewell to the fans he has enthralled with his team’s magical style of football since taking over in 2008.
“I’ll see you all soon, you will never lose me. I will miss you all very much. I’m the one on the losing end,” he told the crowd.
Then, referring to his assistant Tito Vilanova, who will take over the top job next season, he added: “I leave you in the best possible hands. You don’t know how appreciated I feel when I go home. Thank you all.”
Messi opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a superb free-kick, then his second-half treble was aided by two penalties either side of a trademark low left-foot drive.
Gary Morley, CNN Sports