MADRID: Barcelona star Lionel Messi scored all four goals in a 4-0 rout of Espanyol to bring up his half-century in La Liga and take his total goals tally for the season to a record-breaking 72.
In what was Pep Guardiola’s last home match in charge at the Nou Camp, Messi made sure there was a happy ending to what was an emotional night for the home fans.
Barcelona may have conceded their 2011 league title to archrivals Real Madrid last week, but three-time Fifa Ballon d’Or winner Messi gave the Nou Camp a boost by pulling ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the league’s top scorer title.
Ronaldo scored a goal in Real’s last-gasp 2-1 win over Granada, leaving the Portugal striker on 45 league goals, five behind Messi with one league match remaining.
Meanwhile, Guardiola managed to hold back his tears as he bid farewell. “Life has given me this present,” he said. “For five years I have been able to have you close to me and enjoy the great show. I’ve been no different than you — I’ve been equally privileged. A little closer to the pitch maybe, but I’ll take this privilege with me.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2012.