Add another record to the ever-growing list of achievements for Lionel Messi. The Barcelona superstar scored his 67th career Champions League goal in the 67th minute of Wednesday's 2-1 victory over Manchester City, breaking Raul's record for most with a single club, per Tom Dutton of the London Evening Standard.
Messi is still four goals away from matching the all-time record set by Raul, the longtime Real Madrid star who also has the third-most Champions League appearances in history. The Spaniard scored 66 goals with Madrid before adding five during a late-career stint with Schalke 04.
Messi should have no trouble surpassing Raul either this season or the next, and given his status as Barcelona's club cornerstone, he should blow the single-team record out of the water. The Argentine national's goal helped Barcelona claim a spot in the Champions League quarterfinal, taking a dominant 4-1 aggregate before a roaring Camp Nou crowd.
With the score tied at 0-0 deep into the second half, Messi took advantage of a slip from Joleon Lescott to rocket a shot past goaltender Joe Hart for the evening's opening score. Vincent Kompany knotted the match with a score of his own in the 89th minute, temporarily opening a window that was soon closed shut.
Kompany's goal sparked a series of aggressive moves from City as they tried to put through another goal and even the aggregate scoring, but it soon backfired. Dani Alves' goal one minute into extra time clinched the match and the advance for Barcelona. They are attempting to win their fifth Champions League title and first since 2011.
Even without the goal, Messi's performance would have been sterling. He passed the ball with precision, looked engaged for the entire 90 minutes and resembled the Ballon d'Or winner of years past. Chris Myson of Goal.com said it was Messi's best performance of the year:
Although Messi had a big role in eliminating Manchester City from contention, it hasn't been the only time he's been linked to the Premier League side of late. As the summer transfer window looms, rumblings about a possible Messi-to-City transfer began surfacing—even though Messi's new deal with Barcelona is just a year old.
Easy to dismiss as just the random spouting of a rumor rag, City's deep pockets at least got people talking about the possibility. Still, nearly everyone associated with Barcelona has come out to dismiss the rumors. Barcelona midfielder Xavi spoke with Goal.com's Thomas Unsworth before their second-leg match on Wednesday and scoffed at any impending transfer plans:
Of course there will always be stories about the best player in the world and in my opinion the best player ever - but Manchester City and any other team can forget about signing Messi. There is no transfer fee that could make it a good deal for Barcelona - and as everybody who knows him knows - he loves the club and has made it clear he never wants to leave.
Odds are, Barcelona are just fine with keeping Messi around. He won't turn 27 until June, is one of the two or three best players on the planet and has already etched his name into history as one of the finest Barcelona players ever. Keeping him in the fold—even if it is a financial strain—is best for the club's on-field and off-the-field product.
On Wednesday, Messi gave everyone a reminder of just how historically great he can be.
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