Lionel Messi celebrates goal No.370 for Barcelona © AP
Lionel Messi has now scored 371 goals for Barcelona. Here are 10 of the best:
1. First goal v Albacete, May 1, 2005
A 17-year-old Messi came on as a substitute for Samuel Eto'o with the time almost over and Barcelona on the way to a victory that would help close out a first title win in six seasons under Frank Rijkaard. Even though the score was still only 1-0, Ronaldinho (as he had earlier promised) concentrated on trying to provide an assist for his little protégé and quickly sent him clear in area. Messi flicked the ball into the net over advancing Albacete keeper Raul Valbuena, but it was ruled out for offside (wrongly). The pair put together pretty much the same move just a few minutes later, with Ronaldinho's perfect lofted pass expertly lifted over a stranded Valbuena for 2-0 by the Argentine. Ronaldinho then generously offered a piggyback to the youngster, who joyfully accepted in celebration.
2. Last-minute equaliser in 3-3 draw v Madrid, March 10, 2007
It was toward the end of the Rijkaard era that saw Barcelona 3-2 down to Real Madrid with just 10 men and seconds remaining at the Camp Nou. Messi had scored twice already, but Sergio Ramos' header looked to have decided the game. However, Messi wasn't finished. Taking a pass from Ronaldinho still 35 yards out, he surged past two despairing tackles before ramming the ball across Iker Casillas to the net for the equaliser. It was the first hat trick in 12 years in a Clasico, and the 19-year-old had announced he was ready to step up and take over from the declining Brazilian as Barca's attacking talisman.
3. Maradona-esque v Getafe, April 18, 2007
Comparisons with Diego Maradona had begun long before Messi even made his Barca debut, but the connection was confirmed with this solo strike in the Copa del Rey at Getafe. Messi, just like his fellow countryman against England at World Cup 1986, took off in his own half, near the right-hand touchline, and similarly slalomed past opponent after opponent, including two on the edge of the penalty area, before rounding the keeper and knocking the ball home with his bad (right) foot. Messi has also matched Maradona's feat of scoring with his hand, although that was in another game and not covered in this feature.
4. Header v Man United in UCL final, May 27, 2009
Many in the English-speaking world had accepted by this stage that Messi could score brilliant solo goals, but some still wondered whether he could do it against big English teams - especially doubting his ability in the air. So it was fitting that the clincher in the 2009 Champions League final against Manchester United came with a flying leap and deftly directed header past Edwin Van der Saar. Xavi Hernandez hung the ball up perfectly, and the 5-foot-7 "flea" ghosted in behind Rio Ferdinand and expertly finished with his head. Pep Guardiola's Barca had their Champions League trophy, and Messi's detractors were forced to invent some other reason why he was not the best player in the world.
5. World Club final with chest, December 18, 2011
6. Makes ball disappear against Arsenal, March 8, 2011
"You can't do that there," said the TV commentator as Cesc Fabregas (then at Arsenal) lost the ball with a risky backheel on the edge of his own box against Barcelona in the Champions League. The reason? Andres Iniesta picked up possession and immediately threaded a beautifully weighted pass into the area behind the Arsenal defence. Messi read it, and although goalkeeper Manuel Almunia came out quickly to narrow the angle, the Argentine dinked the ball straight up into the air. While everyone else around was wondering where the ball went - especially the Arsenal defence - Messi volleyed it into the now empty net.
7. Slalom against Madrid, April 27, 2011
Messi had put Barca 1-0 up at the Bernabeu in the Champions League semi-final first leg, and most inside the stadium were still taking stock with time running out. But one man wanted more. Barca's No. 10 picked up the ball near the centre circle, accelerated away from Lassana Diarra, feinted away from Ramos and Alvaro Arbeloa, took an angle that left Marcelo powerless to stop him and, with his right foot, clipped the ball early, leaving Casillas with no chance, to make it 2-0. Madrid boss Jose Mourinho was less impressed, as Messi's "minder" Pepe had earlier been sent off for a stamp at Alves, but it was always going to be difficult to stop Messi once he got going.
8. Khedira bumper - Spanish Supercopa v Real Madrid, August 17, 2011
This game is mostly remembered for Mourinho's infamous "poke in the eye" of then-Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova, but it also brought one of Messi's best-ever performances and goals in a Barca shirt. Just back from pre-season, Barca were clearly not as fit or motivated as Mourinho's pumped-up Madrid, but every time they scored at one end, Messi would do something brilliant at the other. This included the goal that made it 2-1 just before half-time. When he saw Sami Khedira arriving, he jumped up to deliberately use the German midfielder's fast-approaching shoulder to bounce in the other direction and completely wrongfoot Pepe then ran through on goal to confidently clip past Casillas. Only on the replay is the quick thinking and physical dexterity evident. It was understandable (if not condonable) that Mourinho would lose his cool so badly about an hour later, after Messi had won the trophy with another classy finish with just two minutes left.
9. Unthinkable free kick v Atletico Madrid, February 26, 2012
With the score at 1-1 and just eight minutes to go, Barcelona were given a free kick out toward the left side of the penalty area. Atletico keeper Thibaut Courtois arranged his wall at the near post, but there was nobody inside the Estadio Vicente Calderon who really believed that Messi was going to shoot at goal given the tight angle. He did, picking out the one tiny piece of the net Courtois couldn't get to - right in the far top corner. The shot was whipped with real pace to ensure the giant keeper could not get across in time and was seemingly an answer to Cristiano Ronaldo's audacious backheel in the same city at Rayo Vallecano earlier that day. It kept Barca in the title race for a little while longer.
10. No. 370 v Osasuna in La Liga, March 16, 2014
The eyes of the world were on the Camp Nou to see if the record would fall, and Messi did not disappoint. He moved level with Paulino Alcantara with a finish seen so many times over previous years. When an intricate Barca move around the box ended with ball whipped across the front of goal, Messi nipped ahead of his marker to delicately guide a shot just inside the far post. A few half chances to break it came and went, but a more fitting No. 370 arrived on 62 minutes. Messi and Iniesta worked the ball into the box between them, and although surrounded by three Osasuna defenders, the history maker worked a half yard of space and hammered the ball to the net to put his side 4-0 ahead. "Congratulations Messi! 370. Barca's record goalscorer," said the Camp Nou scoreboard. And everyone watching wondered just how many the 26-year-old might get before he's finished.
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