Madrid, Nov 23: Lionel Messi became the all-time top goalscorer in La Liga history with a hat-trick as Barcelona swept aside Sevilla 5-1 to remain two points adrift of league leaders Real Madrid.
Messi, 27, moved level with legendary Basque striker Telmo Zarra when he opened the scoring with a trademark free-kick to register his 251st goal in his 289th appearance in the Spanish top flight Saturday (November 22).
A Jordi Alba own goal briefly brought Sevilla level early in the second-half, but Neymar swiftly restored Barca's advantage before Ivan Rakitic made the game safe when he headed home Luis Suarez's enticing cross against his old club.
Messi then took over as he slid in to convert Neymar's low cross to set the new record and extended it moments later with a precise low finish to round off a fine evening for Luis Enrique's men against a side that started the evening just two points adrift of the Catalans.
"When I scored this goal, I couldn't imagine I could break any record, let alone this one previously held by the great Telmo Zarra," wrote Messi on his Facebook page alongside his first Barca goal against Albacete in May, 2005.
"I was only able to achieve this because of the support I have had from so many people during my time here and I would like to dedicate this achievement to you all."
Earlier, Real Madrid saw off Basque minnows Eibar's dreams of a giant-killing thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo double to register their 14th consecutive win in all competitions with a 4-0 victory.
Champions Atletico Madrid remain four points off the top as they overcame Malaga 3-1 at the Vicente Calderon thanks to goals from Tiago, Antoine Griezmann and Diego Godin.
At the other end of the table, Real Sociedad moved a point clear of the relegation zone in former Manchester United manager David Moyes's bow as the Basques new coach as they drew 0-0 away to Deportivo la Coruna. Sevilla were expected to pose a serious threat to a Barca side that has struggled in recent La Liga outings.
However, the hosts had complete control of the game in the first-half and could have been in front before Messi's historic strike as the Argentine's first effort of the match was smothered by Beto and the Portuguese 'keeper then denied Luis Suarez from a narrow angle.
Messi's moment came midway through the first-half as his free-kick curled perfectly into Beto's top right-hand corner to register his 12th goal of the season.