Lionel Messi bags 51st career hat-trick in Real Betis win

Luis Suarez picks up worrying looking injury as Catalans go 10 points clear of Atletico

Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba after Barcelona’s second goal against Real Betis at the Benito Villamarin stadium in Seville. Photograph: Getty Images

Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba after Barcelona’s second goal against Real Betis at the Benito Villamarin stadium in Seville. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Real Betis 1 Barcelona 4

Lionel Messi was lauded by opposition supporters on Sunday after he scored an outstanding hat-trick in Barcelona’s 4-1 win at Real Betis, which put the Catalan club 10 points clear at the top of the La Liga table with 10 games remaining.

With nearest challengers Atletico Madrid falling to a 2-0 defeat at Athletic Bilbao the previous day, Messi got Barca off to an ideal start by drilling a free kick into the top corner of the net in the 18th minute.

The Argentine put Barca further at ease with another strike at the end of the first half, finishing off a backheeled pass from Luis Suarez as the two South American forwards carved their way through Betis’s defence.

Uruguay forward Suarez had missed several clear chances to score but he finally got his reward for a lively performance with a goal in the 63rd minute, dancing past four Betis players on a dazzling run which began in his own half.

Loren Moron pulled one back for Betis in the 82nd minute but Messi replied with a sumptuous first-time lob in off the crossbar to complete his treble and the Betis supporters responded by chanting the Argentine’s name and bowing down to him.

It was an utterly dominant performance from the La Liga leaders which avenged their 4-3 loss at home to Betis in November and took them on to 66 points after 28 games, while Atletico have 56 and third-placed Real Madrid have 54.

There were worries for Barca at the end of the game, however. Suarez, clearly in pain, had to receive treatment on the sidelines after hurting his ankle.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.