Messi equals Zarra's record with sixth Pichichi award

By Sports Desk May 19, 2019

Lionel Messi equalled Telmo Zarra's record of six Pichichi awards after the Barcelona star finished the 2018-19 season as the leading scorer in LaLiga.

The Argentinian has had a sensational campaign for Barca in the league, scoring 36 times in 34 appearances.

His form has been the main catalyst for Barca's title surge, with the Catalans finishing the season 11 points clear of nearest rivals Atletico Madrid at the top of the table.

Messi has rarely looked in danger of being caught, with team-mate Luis Suarez and Real Madrid's Karim Benzema the closest to him with 21 apiece.

It is the sixth time in his career Messi has taken home the Pichichi trophy as LaLiga's top scorer in a single season, moving him level with Athletic Bilbao great Zarra.

Among Messi's 36 goals were three hat-tricks – against Real Betis, Sevilla and Levante – while he rounded out the campaign with a brace in the 2-2 draw with Eibar.

He could yet add the European Golden Shoe too, with Messi four goals clear of Kylian Mbappe, who has one league game left to play this season with Paris Saint-Germain.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak finished a fourth successive season as the goalkeeper with the fewest goals conceded - just 27 in 37 appearances.

 

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  • Japan 0 Chile 4: Sanchez scores as defending champions cruise Japan 0 Chile 4: Sanchez scores as defending champions cruise

    Chile's bid for a third straight Copa America title started with a 4-0 win over guests Japan in Sao Paulo on Monday.

    Eduardo Vargas scored a second-half brace to go with goals from Erick Pulgar and Alexis Sanchez as the two-time defending champions claimed a comfortable win in Group C.

    Japan, who have taken a youthful squad to the tournament, had their chances but lacked a cutting edge.

    Pulgar's header and Vargas' deflected strike set up the win, before the latter scored again after Sanchez's effort as Chile joined Uruguay on three points in the group.

    Japan made the better start with Takefusa Kubo, signed by Real Madrid last week, central to their energetic opening.

    Kubo curled a free-kick over in the seventh minute, before Naomichi Ueda headed a corner straight at Chile goalkeeper Gabriel Arias soon after.

    Chile grew into the encounter as Sanchez fired two attempts off target just after the half-hour mark.

    They would be rewarded for their period of dominance with the opener, Pulgar heading in a Charles Aranguiz corner in the 41st minute.

    Japan almost responded immediately, but Ayase Ueda scuffed a shot wide from an angle after rounding Arias, while Sanchez headed a cross straight at Keisuke Osako at the other end on the stroke of half-time.

    Chile doubled their lead nine minutes into the second half through Vargas, whose strike from the edge of the area took a deflection and went in after a Mauricio Isla cutback for his 37th international goal.

    Again, Ayase Ueda squandered a chance to respond, firing wide at the back post after a cross from Gaku Shibasaki.

    Kubo also had an opportunity after the hour-mark, bursting into the box before shooting into the side-netting from a slight angle as Japan looked for a way back into the game.

    Instead, Chile sealed their win in the closing stages through goals from Sanchez and Vargas.

    Sanchez headed in a cross from Aranguiz before playing in Vargas, who lobbed Osako after the goalkeeper's rash decision to rush out.

     

    What does it mean? Winning start but work to do for Chile

    Taking three points was the key for Reinaldo Rueda's men, but there is plenty of room for improvement. They started the encounter scrappily before building into it, which they will hope is a sign of things to come.

    Vargas goes past Salas

    Vargas has consistently delivered for Chile and his goals were his 37th and 38th at international level. He went past Marcelo Salas and into second on the nation's goalscoring list, moving within four of Sanchez (42).

    Kubo shows glimpses for Japan

    Most of Japan's good moments came thanks to Kubo, who signed a six-year deal with Madrid last week. He almost set up Ayase Ueda after a nutmeg down the left in the first half and his excellent touch and left foot showed why he has been described as the 'Japanese Lionel Messi', although he squandered a good chance in the second half.

    What's next?

    Chile's campaign continues against Ecuador on Friday, while Japan take on Uruguay on Thursday.

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