Nicosia: Argentina wizard Lionel Messi broke the Champions League scoring record while Luis Suarez broke his Barcelona duck in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) celebrates with his teammates after scoring his third goal during their UEFA Champions League football match against Apoel at the Neo GSP Stadium in the Cypriot capital, Nicosia. Pic/AFP
Barca romped to a 4-0 win at APOEL Nicosia but that fact was overshadowed by Messi and Suarez's personal achievements. Messi came into the match level with Spaniard Raul on 71 Champions League goals but he stabbed home from close range on 37 minutes to take sole possession of the record. "I am happy to have achieved such a great record in such an important competition, but the really important thing is the three points which we won," said Messi.
He went on to notch a hat-trick on the night as Barcelona remained a point behind Paris Saint-Germain at the top of Group F after the French team beat Ajax 3-1 thanks to an Edinson Cavani brace and one from Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Both sides have already qualified for the knock-out rounds and top spot will be decided in two weeks time at the Camp Nou.
Messi's feat came just four days after the four-time World Player of the Year broke Telmo Zarra's 59-year-old record of 251 La Liga goals with a hat-trick in a 5-1 thrashing of Sevilla to take his tally in the Spanish top flight to 253 goals in 289 appearances. Just 10 minutes before that, Suarez, who moved from Liverpool in the close season, had finally notched his first goal -- a brilliant solo effort -- for the Catalans in his fifth appearance since making his debut in a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid on October 25.
Aguero the saviour
Elsewhere, Manchester City kept their qualification hopes alive as Sergio Aguero completed a hat-trick in stoppage time to give the English champions a 3-2 win over 10-man Bayern Munich. City were five minutes from defeat against a side that had outplayed them throughout the game, whether playing with 10 or 11 players. Aguero gave the hosts the lead from the penalty spot after centre-back Mehdi Benatia had been dismissed for bringing him down in the box as the last man.
But Bayern still went into the break in front with two goals in the final five minutes of the half, first through Xabi Alonso's free-kick and then as Robert Lewandowski outjumped Vincent Kompany and Bakary Sagna to head home a deep right-wing cross. City toiled in the second period as the Germans dominated the ball, until Stevan Jovetic cut out Alonso's misplaced pass to send Aguero away to equalise five minutes from the finish.
The Spaniard then popped up a minute into stoppage time to pounce on a mistake by former City defender Jerome Boateng to complete his hat-trick. Aguero told ITV: "I am very happy. It is very important for us. The draw was difficult but we are happy now because this is a very important result and the next game we have to win." It left City level on points with Roma and CSKA Moscow going into the last round of matches, with the English side travelling to the Italian capital and the Russians away in Bavaria.
On a day of records, Roma stalwart Francesco Totti extended his mark as oldest scorer in the Champions League by opening the scoring in his side's 1-1 draw at CSKA. At 38 years, one month and 29 days, his 43rd minute goal saw him extend the record he previously set in September when netting in a 1-1 draw at Manchester City to break a three-year-old mark set by former Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs. But Vasily Berezutsky's equaliser 17-seconds from the end of time-added-on kept the Russians in the race for the knock-out stages and sets up a thrilling final round of matches.
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