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Lionel Messi scores eighth goal in three games

Lionel Messi
Messi's hat-trick made it 25 league goal in 24 games for the forward

Argentina forward Lionel Messi scored his second hat-trick in eight days as Barcelona beat Real Zaragoza 4-2 to remain second in the Spanish league.

Messi, 22, has laid the gauntlet down to his World Cup rivals with a stunning run of eight goals in three games.

The Fifa World Footballer of the Year hit three against Valencia a week ago before earning a midweek double against Stuttgart in the Champions League.

Arsenal will face Messi-inspired Barca in the Champions League quarter-final.

After Messi took his season's tally to 34 goals on Sunday, Barcelona president Joan Laporta hailed his prize asset as: "The best player in the history of football."

Capital Bhoy- Larsson gone but never forgotten

Messi headed home Pedro Rodriguez's cross in the fifth minute against Zaragoza, who included former Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant in their line-up.

However, it was his 66th-minute strike that seemed to come straight from the scrapbook of legendary countryman and national team coach Diego Maradona.

The diminutive forward stole possession near the halfway line, bursting past one player before his quick feet left defender Matteo Contini on the turf.

Contini could only clutch at his opponent's shorts as Messi beat goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez with a low shot that brought a standing ovation from most fans at La Romareda stadium.

"I don't know if that second goal is the nicest I've ever scored, it all happened so fast," said Messi.

Not quite finished, Messi followed that up with a curling shot in the 78th to beat Jimenez and clinch the fifth hat-trick of his career.

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see also
Arsenal draw favourites Barcelona
19 Mar 10 |  Europe
Barcelona 4-0 Stuttgart (agg 5-1)
17 Mar 10 |  Europe
Messi wins Fifa best player award
21 Dec 09 |  Football
Messi named top European player
01 Dec 09 |  Europe
Pennant signs for Real Zaragoza
09 Jul 09 |  Europe

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