Lionel Messi capped a record-breaking night with a brace and an assist as Barcelona romped to a 6-1 convert Real Sociedad.
Messi found out the primary of Sergino Dest’s two goals than scored Barca’s fourth of the night as he played his 768th game for the club, overtaking Xavi to become the player with the foremost appearances for the Catalans.
Antoine Griezmann had opened the scoring and Ousmane Dembele added a fifth for the visitors before Ander Barrenetxea struck a fine consolation goal within the 77th minute.
But, fittingly, the ultimate word belonged to Messi, who capped a sweeping team move by turning home Jordi Alba’s cross within the 89th minute.
It was a fifth straight league victory for Barca, who moved back above rivals Real Madrid into second place, four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, who edged out Alaves 1-0 earlier within the day.
Though a few of early chances fell to Messi, Barca struggled to carve out clear openings until the sport opened for them shortly before the break.
The first goal arrived within the 37th minute as they worked the ball wide for Alba, who centered for Dembele. Although the Frenchman’s close-range effort was saved by Alex Remiro, the ball bounced back out for Griezmann to end on the follow-up.
Alexander Isak forced a save from Marc-Andre Ter Stegen moments later, but it might be Barca who doubled up before the break, with Messi the creator.
The Argentinian drove at the Sociedad defence, drawing a crowd of defenders on the sting of the box before slipping the ball through for Dest, allowed to ghost in from the proper before sliding the ball beyond Remiro.
It was Dest’s first LaLiga goal but he had a second eight minutes into the last half.
Alba rounded Andoni Gorosabel and Robin Le Normand to race into the box from the left, firing during a low ball which Dest sprang forward to show in.
Messi then got the goal the occasion demanded, though much of the credit should attend Sergio Busquets who lifted an exquisite ball forward, with the Argentinian running on thereto to lift it beyond the goalkeeper, making it 4-0 before the hour mark.
It was five quarter-hours later as Dembele scored a fine solo effort, driving at the defence before hitting a coffee left-footed shot that spans far away from the goalkeeper to seek out the far corner.
Sociedad teenager Barrenetxea scored a fine consolation goal within the 77th minute, played in by fellow substitute Carlos Fernandez and hitting a rising shot from the sting of the world which whistled beyond the goalkeeper.
It was arguably the goal of the night but Barcelona answered with a fine team move, shifting the ball around the park before Messi turned in Alba’s cross for a final flourish.