LIonel Messi
Messi is now on 228 La Liga goals after his double against Rayo Vallecano.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi eclipsed Alfredo di Stefano's domestic goalscoring record on Saturday to help the Catalans deliver an onimous message ahead of their Champions League trip to Manchester City next week.

Barcelona returned to the La Liga summit, thrashing Rayo Vallecano 6-0 at the Nou Camp. Messi scored twice to leapfrog fellow-Argentine Di Stefano in the all-time scoring chart and draw level with ex-Real Madrid striker Raul on 228 goals as the third highest scorer in Spanish league history. Messi is still only 26.

Only Hugo Sanchez and Telmo Zarra separate Messi, already Barcelona's highest ever goalscorer, from the record for the most goals in Spain – a feat he took a giant stride towards as his side warmed up for the resumption of the Champions League in typically clinical fashion.

Though Manuel Pellegrini's City have scored 117 goals this season, Barca provided further evidence they will be undaunted when facing the Premier League side as they kept pace with Atletico Madrid in the title race by putting Vallecano to the sword.

Adriano set the tone after just two minutes, curling into the far corner and the points appeared to be safe before the break as Messi chipped Ruben Ivan Martinez.

Alexis Sanchez rolled in a third after half time, Cesc Fabregas unselfishly teed up Pedro before Messi stroked in his second with ease.

Neymar marked his return from injury with a superb strike a minute from time to cap one of the most complete performances of Tata Martino's reign as Barcelona manager.

Barca return to the top on goal difference ahead of Atletico and could be joined on points by Real Madrid, should Carlo Ancelotti's side overcome Getafe.

Though Barcelona were always expected to prevail against a Vallecano side in a relegation battle at the bottom of La Liga, the impressive performance sends a message to City whose own domestic form has been imperious.

City swatted aside Chelsea to reach the FA Cup quarter-final while resting a host of players from the start including Joe Hart, Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo. City were also missing Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho, both of whom were sidelined by injury.

Against Barcelona, Pellegrini is expected still to be without striker Aguero, who has endured an injury-hit campaign that has restricted him to 26 goals in all competitions.