Barcelona star Lionel Messi set a new world record for the most goals in a single soccer season, breaking an 87-year standard set by a player with former US team Bethlehem Steel.

Scotsman Archie Stark scored 70 goals for Bethlehem in the 1924-25 campaign, five years before the club sponsored by the longtime Pennsylvania steel producer folded.

Messi passed him after netting all the goals in Barca's 4-0 home defeat of Espanyol on Saturday night, taking the Argentinean maestro to an astonishing 72 goals in all competitions.

His third goal at the Camp Nou saw him seal his 14th hat-trick in the league, while his fourth strike -- his second penalty of the game -- took him to 50 league goals overall, an achievement he rushed to celebrate with outgoing Barca coach Pep Guardiola.

Messi, soccer's reigning World Player of the Year, was celebrating an historic individual campaign despite the team failing to retain the Spanish league title and UEFA Champions League crown.

The peerless forward has two more games to add to his giant goals tally, with one more fixture in La Liga away at Real Betis before the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao.