So Lionel Messi is really, really good at football. Who knew?
The Argentine star was subbed off in the 74th minute of Barcelona's Feb. 15 game against Rayo Vallecano, but not before notching a brace and helping his club to a 5-0 lead that eventually grew to 6-0 after Neymar's finish in the 89th minute.
With the two goals, Messi tied Real Madrid legend Raul for third in La Liga's all-time goalscoring charts, per ESPN's Paul Carr. The guy he passed was Alfredo Di Stefano, so all in all, pretty good company for the Barca star:
Lionel Messi now has 228 La Liga goals, passing Alfredo di Stéfano & tying Raúl for 3rd-most in league history.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) February 15, 2014
By getting goal No. 228, he also became the second-highest scoring foreign player in La Liga history, with only Hugo Sanchez standing in his way, per Twitter handle Messi Stats:
Watch out Hugo Sánchez, Messi is coming for you! pic.twitter.com/NG0XYGtDGp— MESSISTATS (@MessiStats) February 15, 2014
In order to fully comprehend Messi's meteoric rise, think about the fact that on this day 12 years ago, he was signing his first contract with Barcelona, per TheSPORTBible's Twitter feed:
On this day in 2002, Lionel Messi signed his first contract with FC Barcelona. pic.twitter.com/xIhGop6wYu— TheSPORTBible (@TSBible) February 15, 2014
His first goal came in the 36th minute. Cesc Fabregas threaded through a perfectly weighted pass up to Messi, who chipped over an on-rushing Ruben Martinez. That kind of goal has probably become Messi's trademark more than any other. He possesses that innate ability to know exactly when to unleash the chip and how much power and height to put on the ball.
The second goal for Messi was a little more pedestrian, at least in terms of his otherworldly standards. A step or two inside the 18-yard box, he received a pass from Alexis Sanchez. With one touch, the forward placed his shot into the bottom left corner, past a diving Martinez, putting Barcelona ahead 5-0 in the 68th minute.
As you'd expect, Ray Hudson found a way to turn a rather routine goal into the most magnificent thing you've ever seen, per Live Ray Hudson:
5-0, Messi. "Finding him in this kind of form is like finding an alligator in your toilet bowl, Phil. It's an automatic, instamatic goal."— Live Ray Hudson (@liverayhudson) February 15, 2014
Messi also assisted on Alexis' goal that made it 3-0 in the 53rd minute, rounding out his day.
Those watching the match got the full spectrum of the Lionel Messi package. He weaved through the Rayo defense, opened up scoring chances for his teammates and provided a moment of sheer brilliance. WhoScored.com actually gave the performance a 10.0, which you don't see too often.
For most of us, that would be the game of our lives. For Lionel Messi, it was Saturday.