Fresh off becoming the all-time leading scoring in La Liga, Barcelona star Lionel Messi on Tuesday became the record goalscorer in Champions League history as he led Barcelona to a 4-0 victory over APOEL Nicosia.
After Luis Suarez had opened the scoring with his first goal for Barca, Messi scored for the 72nd time in the competition, passing former Real Madrid star Raul, and then added two more to set up a grandstand finish to Group F.
The Catalan giants entertain current leaders Paris St Germain at the Nou Camp on December 10 with just a point separating the sides. Edinson Cavani helped to PSG’s lead at the top of the group with two goals in a 3-1 home win over Ajax, who now host Cypriots APOEL needing a point to clinch a Europa League spot.
Messi was not the only hat-trick hero with fellow Argentinian Sergio Aguero matching his hat-trick on a dramatic night at the Etihad Stadium.
The Manchester City striker had fired his side into an early lead from the penalty spot after Bayern Munich defender Medhi Benatia was sent off for bringing him down, and after Xabi Alonso and Robert Lewandowski had put the visitors ahead, struck twice late on to snatch a 3-2 win.
City will now head for Roma in a three-way battle for second place in Group E behind the Germans after the Italians drew 1-1 at CSKA Moscow. Roma had taken the lead just before half-time through captain Francesco Totti but Vasili Berezutski netted a stoppage-time equaliser for the hosts.
Perhaps the performance of the night came in Group G as Chelsea romped to a 5-0 win in Schalke which ensured they cannot be overtaken at the top. Efforts from John Terry, Willian and a Jan Kirchhoff own goal meant the game was effectively over by half-time, with Didier Drogba and Ramires completing the rout after the break.
The Blues entertain second-placed Sporting Lisbon, who beat Maribor 3-1 at home thanks to goals from Carlos Mane, Nani and Islam Slimani, in the final round of fixtures, although Schalke will head for Slovenia knowing victory could yet see them snatch second place.
The match in Lisbon was delayed by 50 minutes due to floodlight failure at the Estadio Jose Alvalade, with a Jefferson Nascimento own goal seeing Maribor get on the scoresheet. Porto will join Chelsea in the last 16 as Group H winners after easing their way to a 3-0 win over BATE Borisov in Belarus.
They had to wait until the 56th minute for Hector Herrera to open the scoring, but he then set up Jackson Martinez and substitute Cristian Tello to ease the Portuguese side home. That victory, coupled with Shakhtar Donetsk’s 1-0 home defeat to Athletic Bilbao, which came courtesy of defender Mikel San Jose’s lone strike, means they and the Ukraine club will progress regardless of which of them comes out on top at the Estadio do Dragao next month.