Barcelona forward Lionel Messi set a Champions League scoring record of 74 goals when he netted a hat-trick in Tuesday’s 4-0 Group F win at APOEL Nicosia.
The Barca and Argentina captain surpassed the record of 71 he jointly held with former Real Madrid and Schalke 04 striker Raul when he put his side 2-0 ahead shortly before halftime.
His achievement is the latest milestone in a stellar career and comes three days after he broke the six decades-old La Liga scoring record with a hat-trick in Barca’s 5-1 home win over Sevilla.
The 27-year-old added two more goals in the second half to complete his 31st career treble, his fifth in Europe’s elite club competition and the first in which he has scored all three with his less-favoured right foot.
“I am pleased to have achieved such a nice record in such a nice and important competition but the really important thing is the three points,” Messi said in a television interview.
Messi overhauled former Athletic Bilbao striker Telmo Zarra’s tally of 251 goals, set in 1955, and has 253 in 289 league games for the Catalan club he joined as a 13-year-old.
Messi’s 74 Champions League goals came in 91 appearances, while Raul needed 142 for Real and Schalke 04 for his 71.
Lionel Messi is the greatest player of all time, football is the king of sports and he will continue to surprise everyone for a long time
‘Greatest player ever’
Messi was hailed as “greatest [football] player of all time” by Barcelona coach Luis Enrique after setting the Champions League scoring record.
Real forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who ended Messi’s four-year run as World Player of the Year in 2013 with his second award, has scored 70 Champions League goals in 107 matches.
The Portugal captain will try to close the gap when Real play at FC Basel in Champions League Group B on Wednesday.
Barca had already qualified for the Champions League last 16 along with group leaders Paris St Germain, who won 3-1 at home to Ajax Amsterdam.
Barca need to beat the Ligue 1 side when they meet at the Nou Camp on December 10 to secure top spot.
“We will try to keep going in the same way and meet the objectives we set ourselves at the start of the season,” Messi said.
“The PSG match is going to be tough. They have some very good players and they are a team who are growing and improving all the time.
“But we are playing at home so we’ll try to play a great match and finish first in the group.”