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Messi sets new Barcelona record in scintillating Levante performance

21:53 GMT 16/12/2018
Lionel Messi Barcelona 2018-19
Three goals and two assists marked a memorable Sunday for the Argentine, who has set new heights for his club

Lionel Messi has written yet another page in the history books for Barcelona after inspiring his team to a thumping 5-0 victory over Levante on Sunday

After only featuring off the bench midweek in Barca's 1-1 Champions League draw against Tottenham, the Argentine was back with a vengeance at the weekend in La Liga, scoring a hat-trick and adding two assists in a near-perfect display. 

Luis Suarez was the first beneficiary of his team-mate's talents, volleying home in the first half to open the scoring after Messi danced through the Levante defence and delivered an inch-perfect cross on the penalty spot. 

Messi proceeded to net three of his own as Barca ran riot in the Estadio Ciudat de Valencia, before popping up with another assist for Gerard Pique to round off a comprehensive 5-0 win for the visitors. 

The win saw Messi feature in his 323rd La Liga victory, surpassing Xavi's 322 wins to make the Argentine the club's all-time winningest player in league play.

As well as leading Barca to the record-breaking win, Messi sent several individual records tumbling on a scintillating evening. 

He is now the top scorer in Europe's big five leagues, with 14 so far this Liga term. 

And if goals and assists are combined Leo has racked up no less than 24, a number that is also beyond any of his competitors in Europe's elite. 

With 10 assists he is the only player out of the top five leagues to have both scored and provided in double figures during this first half of the 2018-19 campaign. 

Messi additionally went past his half-century for 2018, a mark he has become rather accustomed to surpassing. 

Overall the Argentina captain has scored 50 goals or more in eight of the last nine calendar years, taking into account both club and international strikes.

Sunday's victory means that Barcelona enjoy a three-point lead over nearest rivals Atletico Madrid and Sevilla going into the final Liga fixtures of 2018. 

The Catalans will sign off the year on Saturday at home to Celta, with the league restarting on the weekend of January 4.