Lionel Messi Scores 50th Goal of 2019 as Barcelona Top Alaves 4-1 in La Liga

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IIDecember 21, 2019

TOPSHOT - Barcelona's French forward Antoine Griezmann (3R) celebrates with Barcelona's Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal, Barcelona's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez and Barcelona's Argentine forward Lionel Messi after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona against Deportivo Alaves at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on December 21, 2019. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP) (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)
LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Lionel Messi scored his 50th goal of the year on Saturday to help Barcelona beat Alaves 4-1 at the Camp Nou in their final La Liga match of 2019:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Fifty. Goals. In. A. Year. For most, that’s impossible. For Messi, it’s the ninth time. 🔥 @brfootball https://t.co/AkQlAgxXIM

Antoine Griezmann curled home the opening goal of the contest on 14 minutes with a low shot from just inside the penalty area after good work from Arturo Vidal and Luis Suarez.

Barcelona doubled their lead a minute before half-time through Vidal. Suarez teed up the Chile international to thump a powerful effort across goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco and into the far corner.

Pere Pons headed Alaves back into the match from a Ruben Duarte cross 10 minutes after half-time, and the visitors threatened an equaliser until Messi curled home a brilliant third from the edge of the box.

Suarez added a fourth from the penalty spot following a handball by Martin Aguirregabiria to keep the champions top of the table.

Manager Ernesto Valverde made changes to his starting XI after Barcelona's draw with Real Madrid on Wednesday. Samuel Umtiti replaced Clement Lenglet in central defence, while Vidal, Sergio Busquets and Carles Alena all came into the midfield.

The visitors also made changes after their surprise Copa del Rey defeat to fourth-tier side Real Jaen, bringing in Mubarak Wakaso and Javier Munoz for Oliver Burke and Joselu.

The hosts began the game brightly and had the ball in the back of the net after 10 minutes. Messi latched on to a ball over the top from Busquets and slotted home but saw his effort ruled out for offside.

Barcelona did not have to wait too much longer to break the deadlock. Vidal and Suarez combined down the right to pick out Griezmann just inside the penalty area, and he curled a low shot past Pacheco and into the far corner:

LaLiga @LaLigaEN

That's goal number 7⃣ for @AntoGriezmann this season in #LaLigaSantander! #BarçaAlaves https://t.co/XJQIYHnRGs

The hosts should have had a second on 39 minutes. Griezmann and Messi combined brilliantly on a quick counter-attack from an Alaves corner, only for the Barcelona captain's shot to roll agonisingly wide of the far post with Pacheco beaten.

Yet Barcelona did manage to double their lead before half-time. Messi and Suarez teed up Vidal inside the penalty area to smash a powerful effort across goal and into the net:

OptaJose @OptaJose

5 - Arturo Vidal’s five shots on target for @FCBarcelona in @LaLigaEN this season: ⚽ ⚽ ⚽ ⚽ ⚽ King. https://t.co/cdzSXYU29c

The champions had another goal ruled out early in the second half. Messi dinked a ball in for Griezmann to tap home, but the France international had just strayed offside and was rightly flagged.

Alaves got back into the game on 56 minutes when Pons pulled one back. Duarte whipped in an excellent cross from the left and found an unmarked Pons arriving in the box to head past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Barcelona then needed Ter Stegen to make a block outside his box and Pique to deny Aleix Vidal in the penalty area as Alaves came right back at the champions.

However, Messi ended the match as a contest with his 13th La Liga goal of the season. Suarez picked up his third assist of the match, teeing up the captain to slam home a shot from the edge of the penalty area:

Squawka Football @Squawka

2010: 60 2011: 59 2012: 91 2013: 45 2014: 58 2015: 52 2016: 59 2017: 54 2018: 51 2019: 50 Lionel Messi has scored 50+ goals for club & country in nine of the last ten years. 🐐 https://t.co/xxlQGSzwNV

Suarez got on the scoresheet minutes later when Aguirregabiria was penalised for blocking a header from the Uruguayan with his arm, and the striker made no mistake from the spot to complete a comfortable win.


What's Next?

Barcelona return to La Liga action with a Catalan derby against Espanyol on Saturday, 4 January. Alaves play a day later at home to Real Betis.