Prior to the historical night, the Argentina skipper needed a goal to scale former Real Madrid striker Raul Gonzalez’s record, but came up with his 72nd, 73rd and 74th goals in Europe all in one memorable night in Cyprus.
This record could change hands in subsequent games this season- bearing that Real forward Cristiano Ronaldo is four goals shy of the new benchmark- but Messi has reached the landmark in 91 games, 51 matches better than Raul, who scored 71 goals for both Los Merengues and Schalke.
Messi, who wore the captain armband on the night, converted the Catalans’ second goal of the evening from close range seven minutes after the half-hour mark, following Luis Suarez’s opener- the Uruguayan’s first for the club he joined last summer.
He then latched on to a Dani Alves through pass and masterfully dinked the ball beyond goalkeeper Urko Pardo in the 58th minute. He finished the Group F contest with a flourish three minutes to the dead, when he simply tapped in Pedro’s cut-back.
At just 27 years of age, the four-time Fifa Ballon d’Or winner now holds both scoring records in the Champions League and the Spanish League, having taken down Telmo Zarra’s record of 251 La Liga goals record at the weekend with a hat-trick in a 5-1 thrashing of Sevilla to improve to 253 goals on domestic front.