Messi equalled the 60-year-old record in the 17th minute, slotting home Isaac Cuenca’s cross, and broke it when he lobbed Granada goalkeeper Julio Cesar on 68 minutes. The Argentine completed his eighth Barca treble of the season four minutes from time after latching on to a pass from Dani Alves.
Messi’s record target had been revised down to 232 from 235 after joint research by Barcelona’s Centre of Documentation and Studies and La Vanguardia newspaper revealed that the previous record-holder, Cesar Rodriguez, had scored three goals fewer than had previously been thought.
Xavi Hernandez netted Barca’s first with only four minutes on the clock, before all the attention turned to Messi, but a persistent Granada side managed to retrieve a 2-0 deficit to level at 2-2, thanks to Diego Mainz and a Guilherme Siqueira penalty. Cristian Tello scored Barca’s fifth after Messi had completed his hat-trick, before Siqueira grabbed his second from the spot after Dani Alves had been sent off for a second bookable offence.
“We have to congratulate Messi, he does not just score ordinary goals, but great goals and we hope he gets lots more for us,” Barca Coach Pep Guardiola said afterwards. “We can perhaps call him the Michael Jordan of football. There are no players capable of dominating a sport with such superiority. In every sport there has existed only one player that can be considered as somebody unique. And this is the case with Messi.”
The win takes Barca within five points of leaders Real Madrid, who face Villarreal at El Madrigal tonight.