Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi celebrates one of his two goals against Spartak Moscow during their Champions League encounter in Moscow on Tuesday.Photo: AFP
Rather like tennis's serial record breaker Roger Federer, Barcelona striker Lionel Messi cannot seem to finish a soccer match without ticking off another milestone.
The Argentine was at it again on Tuesday with two goals in his side's 3-0 victory over Spartak Moscow which put the Catalans through to the last 16 of the Champions League.
His brace took his tally in Europe's flagship competition to 56, putting him level in second place on the all-time scoring list with former Dutch marksman Ruud van Nistelrooy. Only Spain's Raul has more with 71.
Messi also equalled Raul's record of scoring in 19 different cities in the Champions League and surpassed the former Real Madrid player's mark of scoring two goals or more in 14 matches in the competition.
Messi moved to within five goals of Gerd Mueller's calendar-year scoring record of 85, set in 1972.
Typically, he was quick to play down his goalscoring feats, but his team mates clearly appreciated them.
"Leo is breaking all the records, he's spectacular, impressive; it's a pleasure to have him with us," Pedro told Barcelona's website.
Messi has been the top scorer in the Champions League for the past four seasons and last season's tally of 14 was the highest total scored in one campaign.
"Everyone talks about Leo, the goals and the records but it is more his awareness and tactics, the way he defends and attacks and helps the team in all areas," coach Tito Vilanova told reporters.