Messi celebrates 50th after being in mix from the start

By Pete Jenson for MailOnline

Leo Messi scored his 50th goal of the year as Barcelona beat Zaragoza 4-0 on Saturday night.

It was his 15th league goal of the season but his half-century for 2011 - fully justifying Pep Guardiola's decision to play him from the start.

Making his point: Leo Messi celebrates last night

Making his point: Leo Messi celebrates last night

Guardiola had been upset by questions about his starting line-up because Messi only returned from international duty in Colombia with Argentina on Thursday.

'Do you not want him in the team? If that's the case then just let me know and I will consider it,' he had snapped ahead of the match.

But Messi pleaded not to be rested and he played right from the start.

He ran on to a Cesc Fabregas pass into the heart of the area to double Barcelona's lead just before half-time after unmarked Gerard Pique had opened the scoring by heading in a Xavi free-kick.

It was the former Manchester United defender's first goal of the season against the club where he spent a year on loan while at United.

Carles Puyol bundled a Seydou Keita header over the line after more good work by Fabregas for the third goal and David Villa added the fourth goal. Barcelona can now look forward to Wednesday's Champions League clash with AC Milan in Italy.

The match will see Fabregas return to the scene of one of his best performances in an Arsenal shirt when he scored in a 2-0 win in 2008.

As well as setting up the second and third goals last night, he earned a free-kick for the opener.

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