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Lionel Messi sets 2018 goals record

Lionel Messi sets 2018 goals record

Furthermore, Messi has recorded at least 50 or more goals in eight of the last nine calendar years.

Two of the best attacks in La Liga meet in what should be an entertaining match.

Luis Suarez was the first beneficiary of his teammate'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. The unselfish Chilean then one-timed it back across to the charging Messi, who had the easiest of strokes into net for his hat-trick and a 0-4 scoreline. All changed though with Messi's dazzling run across the pitch in the build-up to Suarez's opener, and Barca never looked back.

Messi - who teed up Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique to help Barca restore their three-point lead atop the table - has 14 goals and 10 assists this season, with the superstar the first player in Europe's top five leagues to reach double figures for both in 2018-19.

Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his side's second goal.

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This time, having already lost twice in LaLiga, there was to be no such risk.

Rochina did not do enough to close down Messi for the first goal and it was his careless pass that led to the second, which seemed to end any hope of another surprise Levante win.

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.

The Barca captain, following up his two mesmeric goals from free kicks against Espanyol last week, seemed intent on making further mockery of his recent fifth-place ranking in the Ballon d'Or voting by striking again soon after the interval.