Lionel Messi becomes the first player to score 50 goals in 2018
What's the story?
Barcelona ace Lionel Messi has become the first player to score 50 goals in all competitions in 2018, following his goal-scoring exploits in the Catalan giants' thumping win over Levante on Sunday.
In case you didn't know...
Goals from Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique helped the table-toppers extend their lead in La Liga, following their brief tie with Atletico Madrid and Sevilla after their respective wins over the weekend.
The win served as revenge for Levante's 5-4 win over Barcelona last season, a result that ended the Catalan club's unbeaten run in the league.
The heart of the matter
Barcelona talisman Messi emerged as the star of the game, registering his 31st La Liga hat-trick and providing the other two goals to Suarez and Pique.
The Argentine's third goal marked his 50th goal in 2018, thereby making him the first player to achieve the feat in the current year.
Trailing close behind are Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo and Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski, who have 46 goals each, so far.
What's more impressive is the consistency with which Messi has achieved the feat: the five-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored more than 50 goals in eight of the last nine years of his career, with 2013 being the only exception.
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde was left in awe of the Argentine, saying (via Goal), "I don't know how to label him. I don't know how to answer the most repeated question."
"He's the one who makes us play, who gives us amazing goals ... we just have to enjoy him."
Barcelona are now three points clear on the table and will look to extend their lead when they face Celta Vigo this Saturday.