The 23-year-old found the target in the 54th minute in the final against Manchester United at Wembley on Saturday evening to increase his goal tally to 12 for this campaign.
The goal came with the encounter tied at 1-1. Messi picked up a short pass, galloped forward a few paces and unleashed a curling shot from 20 yards out with his left foot into Edwin van der Sar's bottom left corner to give his team a 2-1 lead.
Van Nistelrooy scored the same number of goals for Manchester United in the 2002-03 campaign. The Netherlands veteran striker finished top scorer that season, as he did in 2001-02 (10 goals) and 2004-05 (eight goals).
Messi has finished as the top marksman in the Champions League for the past two seasons and he is now certain to become only the third player after Gerd Muller (Bayern Munich) and Jean-Pierre Papin (Marseille) to top-score in three successive campaigns in Europe’s premier club competition.
The Argentine sensation's strike against United at Wembley was also his 53rd goal in all competitions this term, bringing him levelled with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo. It's the highest tally by any player in Europe in the 2010-11 season.
Messi has now totalled 37 Champions League goals, allowing him to leapfrog Ferenc Puskas into 10th place in the all-time top scorer's table.
| Top Single-Season Goalscorers In The Champions League
|2002-03||Ruud van Nistelrooy||Manchester Utd||12|
|2001-02||Ruud van Nistelrooy||Manchester Utd||10|
|1997-98||Alessandro Del Piero||Juventus||10|