Messi matches Ronaldo penalty milestone as Barca star sets six-year best

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The Argentine superstar was back among the goals from the spot against Los Che on Saturday and has now found the target in his last nine outings

Lionel Messi has joined Cristiano Ronaldo in reaching a half century of Liga penalties, with the Barcelona superstar recording his 50th effort from the spot while hitting a six-year scoring high.

A talismanic presence for the Blaugrana was back among the goals against Valencia on Saturday.

Ernesto Valverde’s side had surprisingly fallen 2-0 down in that contest at Camp Nou.

Los Che were in complete control after 32 minutes thanks to goals from Kevin Gameiro and Dani Parejo, but Messi was to snatch Barca a lifeline before half-time.

Nelson Semedo was felled inside the box, presenting his captain with an opportunity to step up from 12 yards and Messi made no mistake as he cut Valencia’s advantage in two.

That effort took him to a half-century of successful penalties in the Spanish top flight, while also pulling Valencia's lead back to a single goal.

He is just the third man to have reached that mark – with Ronaldo having proved prolific from the spot during his time at Real Madrid, while former Blancos striker Hugo Sanchez was also deadly.

While hitting a notable mark in terms of penalty conversions, Messi also extended an impressive goal streak in netting against Valencia.

The 31-year-old has been offered breaks in Copa del Rey action of late, but remains Barcelona’s go-to man in the defence of their La Liga crown.

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Not since January 2013 has Messi enjoyed such a productive run in the Spanish top-flight, and he has now netted 11 in his last nine games to mark his best run of form in six years.

Messi already topped the Liga scoring charts for 2018-19 heading into a home date with Valencia and has now extended his lead over the chasing pack.

He now has 21 efforts to his name after adding to his penalty against Los Che with a 64th-minute leveller for Barca.

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