Lionel Messi's second hat trick in eight days took his season tally to 34 goals as Barcelona won 4-2 at Zaragoza on Sunday to remain second in the Spanish league behind Real Madrid.
The Argentina forward, who also hit a hat trick last weekend against Valencia, now has a league-leading 25 goals after tormenting Zaragoza's defense with a combination of close dribbling, strength and accurate finishing.
"He's the best player in the history of football," Barcelona president Joan Laporta said.
Messi headed home Pedro Rodriguez's cross in the fifth minute, but it was his 66th-minute strike that will be added to his lengthening list of great goals.
He stole possession near halfway, 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," Messi said. "The team takes credit for the goals, I was lucky to score them." Messi followed that up with a curling shot in the 78th to beat Jimenez and claim his fifth career hat trick.
"To describe Messi, I've run out of adjectives," Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said.
Zaragoza's Adrian Colunga took advantage of defensive lapses to score twice in the closing moments. But Messi's dazzling skills led Contini to drag him down for a 90th-minute penalty that Zlatan Ibrahimovic converted for his first goal in Match.
Results: Barca 4 (Messi 5’, 66’ 90’ pen, Ibrahimovic) bt Zaragoza 2 (Adrian Colunga)