Messi breaks Champions League record

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi became the Champions League’s all-time top scorer with a hat-trick against Apoel Nicosia.

Messi went into the Group F game in Cyprus level on 71 goals with former Real Madrid forward Raul.

Luis Suarez had already opened the scoring with his first goal for the club when Messi diverted Rafinha’s 38th-minute shot past the keeper.

Messi netted his second in the 58th-minute with a low right-foot finish before tapping home from close range.

Messi’s records

Champions League top scorer:74 La Liga top scorer: 253
Barcelona’s top goalscorer: 368 Most goals in a La Liga season: 50
Most goals in a season: 73 Most consecutive La Liga matches scored in: 21
Most Ballon d’Or titles: 4 Most goals in a single European Cup game: 5 (joint with Luiz Adriano)
Most European Cup top scorer awards: 4 (with Gerd Muller) Most goals in Clasicos: 21
Most La Liga hat-tricks in a season: 8 Most goals in Club World Cup: 4 (held jointly with Denilson)
Most goals in a calendar year: 91

“I am happy for having achieved such a nice record in a competition of this importance,” said the 27-year-old.

“But the really relevant thing is that we took the three points.

“Barcelona played a great match.”

It is Messi’s second major record in four days, having scored a landmark 253rd Spanish top-flight goal with a hat-trick against Sevilla on Saturday.

Messi’s latest achievement earned him glowing praise from his manager Luis Enrique.

“I’ll say it again, he’s the best ever in this game,” said the former Spain midfielder.

Both teams finished with 10 men on Tuesday, Rafinha sent off for two bookable offences 20 minutes from time before Apoel Nicosia’s Joao Guilherme followed him 14 minutes later, also for a second booking.

It was Messi’s 28th Barcelona hat-trick, and his fifth in the Champions League.

The Argentina international now has 74 Champions League goals in 91 appearances in the competition.

Raul’s 71 goals came in 142 games.

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who is expected to line up at Basel on Wednesday in the competition, has 70 goals.

Barcelona had already qualified for the knockout stages before their visit to Cyprus.

Enrique’s side are second in Group F with one game to go.

But they will advance to the last 16 as group winners if they beat current group leaders Paris St-Germain at the Nou Camp on 10 December.