Barcelona's first game of 2019 saw them earn a key 2-1 victory away to Getafe on Sunday night to move five points clear at the top of La Liga.
Lionel Messi bagged Barca's first goal of a calendar year for the fourth consecutive time in the 20th-minute as he reacted quickest to a loose ball and placed a rebound into an empty net.
Luis Suarez's magnificent volley 19 minutes later ended up being the decisive goal, but yet again, Messi managed to showcase so many of his other qualities besides scoring.
Starting with Suarez and Ousmane Dembele in attack, the Barca skipper was at the heart of their best attacking moves and helped them keep control late on as Getafe pushed for an equaliser.
One of the stars for a spirited Getafe side was their goalscorer Jaime Mata, and his reaction after swapping shirts with Leo Messi at full-time sums up the influence of the Argentinian.
New year, same Messi
We all know that Messi dribbles, plays sublime passes, creates chances and whips out tricks in addition to scoring goals, but his numbers in 2018-19 are phenomenal.
Despite suffering a serious arm injury back in October, the little magician has scored 22 goals and provided 12 assists in just 21 matches so far this season.
Jaime Mata scores but Barca hold on
With the score at 2-0, it was Mata who got the hosts back into the contest at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez by getting on the scoresheet two minutes before half-time.
A fabulous cross was sent deep into Barca's penalty area and Angel Rodriguez played a first-time pass across the six-yard box for Mata to tap home - Marc-Andre ter Stegen totally helpless.
Getafe's two strikers combined on that occasion but they couldn't break the champions' resistance for a second time and Ernesto Valverde's men held on for the three points.
Mata gets Messi's shirt after Getafe 1-2 Barca
Following the full-time whistle, Mata, who who joined Getafe from Real Valladolid last summer, could be seen swapping shirts with the great Leo Messi.
In a post-match interview, Mata confirmed it was he who asked for Messi's jersey and thanked him by giving the Argentine a big and pretty long hug out on the field.
When asked to describe the moment he got Messi's shirt after Getafe 1-2 Barca, Mata had nothing but lovely words for the man he feels is the true best player in world football.
"It was an honour to get Messi's jersey," the 30-year-old, who was born in Madrid, told a reporter, per Spanish sports newspaper Diario AS.
Mata continued: "It's an honour to play against the best player in the world and it's a good thing to be able to share the field with him."
While Getafe will be disappointed with the loss, they currently sit seventh in the La Liga table, only a couple of places behind the desperately struggling Real Madrid.
Next up for Barcelona and the amazing Messi is a Copa del Rey trip to Levante before welcoming Eibar to the Nou Camp in the league on Sunday.
Do YOU agree with Mata that Messi is the best footballer in the world? Be sure to leave YOUR thoughts in the comments box below!News Now - Sport News