Messi scores 400th La Liga goal

Brilliant Barcelona's Luis Suarez (centre) celebrates with team-mates Lionel Messi (left) and Philippe Coutinho after scoring against Eibar. REUTERS

Lionel Messi scored his 400th La Liga goal, a total his coach Ernesto Valverde called "monstrous", as Barcelona terrorised Eibar to reclaim their five-point cushion at the top of the table.

Messi drove the ball into the bottom corner after being teed up by Luis Suarez, who added two goals to his own tally either side of the Argentinian marking another historic record at the Camp Nou on Sunday.

"It's monstrous," said Valverde, after the 3-0 victory. "It's easy to say but you have to score them one after the other, it's a long-term job.

"His numbers are stratospheric, incredible. He is from another galaxy."

Real Madrid won too, beating Real Betis, to ensure Spain's big three all prevailed in the same round for only the fourth time this season. Real remain 10 points adrift of Barcelona.

 

In fact, it was one of Messi's quieter nights in terms of performance and in another team it might have been Suarez or Philippe Coutinho picking up the plaudits.

Suarez assisted Messi, applied a classy finish and was on the end of a scintillating team move for Barca's first.

Coutinho was the provider for that one and delivered a sparkling display to appease those doubting his future at the club.

The Brazilian has endured a spell out of Valverde's preferred starting line-up but he converted a penalty against Levante in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, and was arguably man of the match here.

He alone supplied three passes in the build-up to Suarez's opener. Arthur Melo started it, playing a one-two with Coutinho and then into the feet of Sergio Busquets.

Busquets pinged the ball left to Coutinho, who twice exchanged with Suarez before the Uruguayan, off balance, found the far corner.

Messi's moment came in the 53rd minute and it was Suarez who started it, stealing back possession after a heavy touch from Anaitz Arbilla. He bounced it off Coutinho and found Messi, who touched and rifled in.

Barca were enjoying themselves as Coutinho flicked the ball over one opponent's head and Suarez did the same through another's legs.

The third goal was simple, however, Sergi Roberto taking a quick throw and freeing the scuttling Suarez. With the goalkeeper out, he looked up and chipped the ball into the net.

Luka Modric sent a thunderous shot into the top corner but Betis were in the ascendancy after Sergio Canales poked in a second-half equaliser.

Marcelo had been dropped by Santiago Solari, Karim Benzema taken off with a dislocated finger and Isco remained on the bench, watching three youngsters sent on ahead of him. Ceballos, who left Betis for Madrid two years ago, was one of them.

With a free-kick on the edge of the area and goalkeeper Pau Lopez leaving his left-hand corner open, Ceballos duly sent a dipping shot into the gap to snatch a dramatic win.

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Messi scores 400th La Liga goal

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