Madrid: Lionel Messi on Sunday scored a spectacular hat-trick to push Barcelona to a 4-1 victory against the Real Betis and reach the top of La Liga.
Messi opened the scoring in the first half with an arrowed free kick into the top corner and added Barca’s second just before the break after a brilliant no-look back-heel assisted from Luis Suarez. The most impressive of his three goals came in the 85th minute.
The hat-trick goal also received a standing ovation from the Real Betis’ supporters, who hailed the greatest player of this generation.
Luis Suarez, who assisted Messi, also scored a goal for his team.
Messi now has 29 league goals this season, 39 in all competitions, and together with Suarez’s 18 their joint-total of 47.
Messi’s treble is his second in a month in Seville, fourth of the season and 51st of his career.
Barcelona has a maximum of 16 matches to play this season. Of them, 10 are in La Liga and one is a Copa del Rey final. They are 10 points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona now has 66 points from 28 games. They are 10 ahead of Atletico Madrid, with Real Madrid third with 54 points.