His form appeared to be tapering off in the recent weeks, but Messi arrested the decline in spectacular fashion. He put the 'Gunsmiths' to the sword in another stellar show of individual brilliance, but this isn't the first time he has pulled off such a feat.
In fact, Messi has now scored four or more in a match on seven different occasions! Yes, you read that right - SEVEN! For any other player, managing it even once would be some achievement, but Messi isn't any other player, is he?
So, to celebrate his latest landmark, let's dive into all those seven instances when he bagged four or more goals in a game:
#7 Against Eibar (22 Feb, 2020)
Coming off the back of four goalless games, nobody saw this coming. But then again, when has Messi actually failed to surprise us? The Argentine upped the ante and wiped the floor with the hapless visitors, even scoring a first-half hat-trick!
He twisted and turned Los Armeros inside out, he made them dance to his tunes, and he even knocked them over like a bowling ball knocking down skittles, as Messi was all over Eibar, who had virtually no answer.
#6 Against Eibar (19 Sept, 2017)
You thought that was the only occasion Messi struck four times against Eibar? Well, just to remind you, he's done it before! So Messi sure has Eibar's numbers, suffice to say.
Back at the start of 2017-18 season, the Barcelona ace kicked into gear right from the off, netting five times from his first three appearances, before adding another four to his tally as he romped the 'Gunsmiths' in a 6-1 thumping.
#5 Against Osasuna (27 Jan, 2013)
We have to go back more than four years to trace Messi's previous instance of bagging a quartet. And that was when he was at the peak of his powers; in the prime of his career. He had just capped a record-breaking year of 91 goals, and didn't rest on his laurels even after the turn of 2013, smashing four past Osasuna.
Messi ran the visitors ragged in an iconic show of individual brilliance. The goals might not have been spectacular, but his work in the build-up - evading his markers and rounding the goalkeeper, oozed class. The sheer sight of him cavorting past the horde of defenders was great and it was also pulled off with utmost ease by the twinkle-toed forward.
#4 Against Espanyol (5 May, 2012)
Messi's record-setting tally of 50 goals in the 2011-12 season produced eight trebles, and some oquadruples as well, like the one against local rivals Espanyol. And for the record, he was the only scorer of the evening as Barcelona coasted to a 4-0 victory.
Messi opened the floodgates with a cracking free-kick from over 40 yards out. He then netted thrice in the second-half, including a pair of penalties, to round off a brilliant evening and also reach the landmark of 50 league goals in a season.
#3 Against Bayer Leverkusen (7 Mar, 2012)
In that same, freakish 73-goal season, Messi also netted his first and only 'quintet' of goals in yet another record-tumbling night. The casualties this time were Bayer Leverkusen, who were at the receiving end of a 7-1 shellacking at the Camp Nou.
A pair of delightful chips, a wonderful solo effort, a simple nudge and a 20-yard stunner - Messi's five-goal salvo had all the makings of a legendary performance, one of the greatest ever seen in the Champions League, as he became the first player to net five times in a match in the competition.
#2 Against Valencia (19 Feb, 2012)
We are aren't done with the 2011-12 season yet, after all, Messi's greatest season (at least statistically) in club career included so many stellar individual shows. Now take another one for example, when he netted four times against Valencia in La Liga.
An early goal for the visitors seemed to spur Messi on, as he then scored twice in each half to turn the screw. His fourth of the evening particularly, was eye-catching as Messi executed yet another delightful dink over the goalkeeper to cap another perfect outing.
#1 Against Arsenal (6 Apr, 2010)
Messi's love affair with English teams in the Champions League arguably sparked with this contest. He had scored a marvelous header against Manchester United in the previous year's final, but this was something else. The Gunners were battered pillar to post as it started a run of English team-bashing that yielded a litany of goals over the years.
Every single strike in this match was top-notch as Messi looked unstoppable. Firstly, he squeezed the ball through the Arsenal backline and lashed a ferocious effort into the top corner, then backed it up with a tight-angle finish and completed a first-half hat-trick with a delicate chip. He then added gloss to his mesmerising performance with an equally mesmerising solo effort in the dying embers, as Messi served a Champions League classic for the ages.
Published 24 Feb 2020, 21:39 IST