Even the Real Betis supporters rose to acclaim Lionel Messi after the Barcelona captain expertly lobbed home his hat-trick goal on Sunday night.

As fans of football first and foremost, the Benito Villamarin faithful had to pay appropriate homage after a finish that was so exquisite as to be an ‘I was there’ moment.

The type of goal that they’ll recount in years to come to their children and grandchildren.

Frankly, it was the work of genius, of an artist at the peak of his powers. Sublime in its execution but no less than we’ve come to expect from a player who still has the power to leave us in jaw-dropping awe, 14 seasons after he first came into our collective consciousness.

Even his colleagues, Clement Lenglet and Sergi Roberto, and Betis’ Aissa Mandi held their heads in their hands at what they’d just witnessed, and TV cameras would also pick up keeper Pau Lopez’s stunned expression.

At almost two metres tall and with a good reach to boot, Lopez is a commanding presence, and yet he was lobbed despite only being a couple of yards off of his goal line.

It was certainly a goal for the ages, but let’s not forget a first-half free kick that will be difficult for anyone else to replicate too.

With teams getting wise to the Argentinian’s under-the-wall routine, Marc Bartra went full length as his colleagues jumped, but it was all to no avail as Messi completely bypassed them all and sent an Exocet into the corner of the net that Lopez was covering.

Another extraordinary finish.

His second, which came with the last kick of the first half, was made possible by the awareness and skill of strike partner, Luis Suarez, and the Uruguayan would go on and score his own goal of the season contender in the second half.

A shame for him then that his contribution will be overshadowed by Messi.

There really are no more superlatives left to describe his body of work and what he means to the profession of football. Comparisons with former greats and Ronaldo are moribund to an extent also.

It’s perhaps his consistency that marks him out as, potentially, being the greatest to have ever played the game, and there’s a great quote on Twitter which came in the wake of his latest master class.

It reads ‘Maradona was Maradona now and then. Messi is Maradona everyday.’


Odds are correct at the time of posting

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