La Liga: Record-smashing Lionel Messi double in Barcelona romp
Lionel Messi celebrated becoming Barcelona’s highest appearance maker of all time by scoring twice as his rampant side crushed Real Sociedad 6-1 away in La Liga on Sunday (March 21) with a stunning team display. Antoine Griezmann opened the scoring by netting against his old club in the 36th minute and right back Sergino Dest stretched Barca’s lead shortly before halftime after latching on to a sweeping pass from Messi.
Dest struck again early in the second half before Messi controlled a sumptuous pass from Sergio Busquets and scored to mark a night in which he overtook Xavi Hernandez as Barca`s record appearance maker, moving on to 768 games with the club.
Ousmane Dembele struck his side’s fifth goal of the night in the 71st minute after a brilliant solo run while Sociedad’s Ander Barrenetxea hit arguably the best goal of the game to give his side a rare moment of joy.
Messi, however, had the final say, finishing off a flowing team move in the 89th minute to score his 23rd league goal of the season, increasing his lead at the top of the scoring charts. The victory took Barca above Real Madrid into second place in the standings on 62 points, four behind leaders Atletico Madrid with 10 games left to play.
Coach Ronald Koeman delighted as players share goalscoring burden
Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman emphasised the importance of easing the scoring burden on Lionel Messi after his side hammered Real Sociedad 6-1 away from home in La Liga on Sunday with four different goalscorers.
Messi did manage to net twice to take his tally to 23 league goals this season but fellow strikers Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele also got on the scoresheet while right back Sergino Dest scored a brace of his own.
“It’s always important for players other than Leo to score goals. That way it’s much harder to defend against us,” Koeman told reporters.
The Dutch coach has criticised his side after a number of games this season for not being clinical enough in front of goal but had no complaints after they scored six times with 10 attempts on target against Sociedad, who are fifth in La Liga.
“In a difficult game like this one it’s vital you are effective in the box and it’s also crucial to go in front to ensure your opponents leave you more space. Once we went ahead we really punished them,” he said.
“The most important thing today was the image we gave, it proved that we will go all out to try and win everything we can.”
Barca head into the international break trailing leaders Atletico Madrid by four points while they are two points ahead of Real Madrid in what looks set to be a thrilling three-way tilt for the title with 10 games remaining.
Koeman added: “Every game from now on for us, Atletico and Real will be difficult. It’s going to be very exciting until the end of the season and we just have to keep on playing as we are.”