Lionel Messi equalled Real Madrid legend Raul as the top goalscorer in the history of the Champions League on 71 goals after scoring both goals in Barcelona’s 2-0 win against Ajax on Wednesday.
The Argentine headed Barca in front nine minutes before half-time and then prodded home Pedro Rodriguez’s low cross to match Raul’s mark in his 90th appearance in the competition 15 minutes from time.
Messi now leads Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo by one goal after the Portuguese failed to find the net against Liverpool on Tuesday.
Victory ensured Barca’s place in the last 16, but they remain one point behind French champions Paris Saint-Germain in the battle for first place in Group F.
“The most important thing was to qualify and keep fighting for our objective which is to win the group and therefore we need to keep competing with PSG,” said Messi.
“We played against a good team that like to move the ball from side to side and it was difficult for us to press and play the way we wanted to, but we took our chances.”
It took Raul significantly longer than Messi to reach the record mark as his 71 goals came in 142 games for Madrid and Schalke.
And Messi is on the verge of also becoming the all-time top scorer in La Liga history as he is just one goal short of Telmo Zarra’s 251-goal mark that has stood since 1955.
The four-time World Player of the Year made his Champions League debut against Udinese in 2004 and has won the Champions League three times with Barca in 2005-06, 2008-09 and 2010-11.
Messi scored in both those latter triumphs against Manchester United and said those were the pick of his goals in European football‘s premier club competition.
“I don’t know if there is one in particular I remember, but the ones in the finals are always special,” he added.
Whilst Messi celebrated, it was a frustrating night for Luis Suarez on his return to the side where he made his name in European football during a four-year spell before joining Liverpool in 2011.
The Uruguayan passed up a great chance to register his first goal for Barca when he was denied by Ajax ‘keeper Jasper Cillessen early in the second-half, but Messi remains confident Suarez will deliver plenty of goals for the Catalans.
“The truth is we are happy with Luis and he is happy with us. He is adapting to our philosophy and it is only his third game with us.
“We expect a lot of him and I am sure he will give us that in time.” – Agence France-Presse