LIONEL MESSI further etched his name into football history by becoming the first player to score 400 La Liga goals.
The Argentine maestro struck the second in a 3-0 win over Eibar to secure the record and maintain Barcelona’s five-point lead.
Getty Images – Getty4 Lionel Messi is streaking clear after hitting his 400th La Liga goal for Barcelona
Messi, 31, has been La Liga’s all-time top scorer since 2014, with long-term rival Cristiano Ronaldo the only other player to score more than 300 goals in the competition.
It took him just 435 games to achieve the landmark, with his first goal coming back in 2005 via a Ronaldinho assist.
He conjured up his fourth century by rounding a defender and slotting into the bottom corner of the net with his famous left foot.
Luis Suarez bagged the other two at the Nou Camp as Barca stay on course for what would be Messi’s tenth league title.
AFP4 Lionel Messi's goal for Barcelona was sandwiched between two goal for Luis Suarez
AP:Associated Press4 Ernesto Valverde was gushing in his praise of arguably the greatest ever footballer
Suarez said: “We have to be very proud of Messi because every week he demonstrates how good he is and continues to make history.”
Coach Ernesto Valverde added: “His numbers are stratospheric, they are incredible. But it’s not just goals, it’s everything else he does too.”
Philippe Coutinho, recalled in place of Ousmane Dembele following recent speculation over his future, put in an impressive performance.
Barcelona stayed five points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid, which edged Levante 1-0 thanks to a penalty from Antoine Griezmann, as the league reached its midway point.
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Getty Images – Getty4 Luis Suarez is the second top-scorer in La Liga this season behind team-mate
Suarez opened and concluded the scoring for Barcelona at the Nou Camp
The Uruguay striker exchanged two quick passes with Philippe Coutinho to break down Eibar's backline before he skillfully directed a shot into the far corner of the net while falling down in the 19th.
Goalkeeper Asier Riesgo did well to thwart attempts by Suarez and Messi.
But he was left all alone against Suarez when Sergi Roberto caught the defence out of position with a quick throw-in directly to the former Liverpool man, who shot past Riesgo from a tight angle in the 59th.
Suarez is second in the league behind Messi this season with 14 goals.