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By ESPN Staff

Guardiola hails Messi after he notches 100th goal

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola heaped glowing praise on Lionel Messi after the Argentina superstar became the youngest player to reach a century of goals for the Catalan club.

Messi, who walked off with both the FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d'Or crowns in 2009, reached the milestone with his side's third goal in the 4-0 defeat of Sevilla.

The 22-year-old also netted Barca's fourth to take his league tally to 12 for the season and help his side move five points clear of second-placed Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga standings.

The result also allowed Barca to avenge their Copa del Rey exit at the hands of Sevilla in midweek.

When asked about Messi following the match, Guardiola said: "I congratulate him. It's outrageous to have done what he has at his age. It only depends on him to break all possible records. He has some very, very high numbers.

"What we like most is that his ambition has no limit. I feel that he wants more. He is a wonderful example to the future generations.''

Messi, who was playing in his 188th match for Barca, was delighted with the victory which ensures the reigning champions will finish the first half of the season in top spot.

However, he also warned against getting too carried away.

"It was a very tough game but we showed the good football that we produced in the previous game (a 1-0 win over Sevilla on Wednesday) and this confidence in our game helped us beat a very hard-working opponent. We stayed faithful to our style of play,'' Messi said in AS.

"It's important to be winter champions but what we want is to get to the end of the season in the same position. We cannot be over-confident because there is still a lot of the season left and I'm sure Madrid will fight until the end.''

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