Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick to become Barcelona's all-time leading scorer on 234 goals in a 5-3 win over Granada today which moved the champions to within five points of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.
It was Barça's sixth consecutive league win and puts pressure on Madrid ahead of their trip to Villarreal on Wednesday, three days after Jose Mourinho's side dropped two points in a 1-1 draw at home to Malaga.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola praised the record-breaking Argentinian. "We have to congratulate Messi, he has scored so many goals and is only 24, he does not just score ordinary goals but great goals and we hope he gets lots more for us, we can compare him perhaps to Michael Jordan in football," he said.
Xavi Hernandez and Messi hit the net for Barcelona in the first half before Diego Mainz reduced arrears for the Andalusians on 55 minutes. In doing so, Messi equalled the record of 232 goals held by club legend Cesar Rodriguez.
Guilherme Siqueira levelled from the spot for the away side seven minutes later after a foul on the edge of the box by defender Dani Alves, raising the prospect of a possible upset.
However those fears lasted only minutes as Messi produced a trademark chip over Granada's Brazilian keeper Julio Cesar in the 67th minute to put Barcelona 3-2 ahead.
After Cristian Tello made it 4-2 for the hosts, Messi produced another fine piece of individual skill to make it 5-2 in the 86th minute.
Dani Alves received a second yellow card on 88 minutes for handling the ball in the area and Siqueira scored from the spot again, moments before the final whistle.
Messi's latest hat-trick also made it 34 goals so far in the league, two more than Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo.