Lionel Messi marked his 600th goal for Barcelona in style with a magnificent free-kick to cap off their 3-0 win over Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final at the Nou Camp.
The Argentine forward had scored a tap-in to record goal number 599, before taking aim from around 25 yards with a majestic strike that whistled into the top corner of the Liverpool net.
Reds manager Jurgen Klopp paid tribute to Messi’s brilliance afterwards: “I knew before Lionel Messi was a world-class player and now I saw it again I’m not surprised.
“In those moments, he is unstoppable. What a strike.”
It was a wonderful goal but the 31-year-old was humble afterwards, saying: “It was beautiful when it went in but I was lucky that the ball lodged up there in the corner.”
Maybe Messi’s first of the evening was fortunate, Luis Suarez’s effort hitting the bar and landing perfectly for him to score, but his second was simply stunning.
Former England defender Rio Ferdinand said he felt ‘blessed’ to have witnessed the moment that Messi reached 600 goals – 14 years to the day that he scored his first, a delicate lob against Albacete in La Liga on 1 May 2005.
Messi has scored 600 goals in 683 games for Barcelona, a staggering record of 0.9 goals per game. His closest challenger, Cesar Rodriguez, hit 232 goals, last playing for Barcelona in 1954.
By scoring against Liverpool, Messi has now registered against all six English teams he has faced in the Champions League.
He and long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo – who scored his 600th career goal four days ago – are the only players to net against six teams from the same country (also English teams), but the Argentine has scored 14 more against English clubs than the Portuguese.
His Champions League record is 112 goals, second only to Ronaldo, who has 126.
He enjoys playing against English teams but Messi has been ruthless against fellow Spanish sides for years.
His favourite opponent is Sevilla (36 goals) and he has performed consistently against Barcelona’s biggest rivals, hitting 26 goals against Real Madrid and 25 goals against city neighbours Espanyol.
Strike partner Luis Suarez has provided 41 assists for the Argentine and is likely to overtake the only man ahead of him, Dani Alves who has 42.
What they said
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde paid tribute to his captain: “Messi always surprises you. I don’t know how he does it. He also does it in times when we need it.”
BBC Sport’s chief football writer Phil McNulty said: “The magic that Messi has been sprinkling on Barcelona and the entire sport for more than a decade transformed this tie in the space of those final 15 minutes. Few players could even contemplate what Messi did let alone accomplish it.”
Former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher said: “Messi did not dictate the game but he came alive to become the decisive goalscorer.”
Ex-Wales midfielder Robbie Savage at the Nou Camp said: “Wow. Wow. Absolutely incredible from Messi. The goalkeeper Allison had no chance.”
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker posted on Twitter: “That’s as good a free-kick as you’ll ever see. The little genius defies logic.”