Lionel Messi scored the 53rd hat-trick of his astonishing career to help Barcelona crush Mallorca 5-2 at the Nou Camp to retain their place at the top of LaLiga.
Following Real Madrid’s 2-0 victory over Espanyol earlier in the day to temporarily move top, the pressure was again on Barca to provide a response and they did so in emphatic fashion, with the mercurial Messi again at its heart.
Antoine Griezmann set the ball rolling after just six minutes and with almost route one football after Dani Rodriguez had missed a sitter from just six yards.
From the ensuing goal-kick, Marc-Andre ter Stegen launched the ball upfield for Griezmann to then embark on a stunning run from the halfway line before chipping the ball over goalkeeper Manolo Reina.
Griezmann then turned provider 10 minutes later, but the finish was all Messi, who had showed off his sixth Ballon d’Or to the fans before kick-off, as he curled beyond Reina from 25 yards.
Although Barca then threatened a third, it was Mallorca who gave themselves a lifeline in the 35th minute when Ante Budimir’s shot took a slight deflection off Clement Lenglet beyond ter Stegen.
Barcelona, though, finished the first half with a flourish, with Messi again beating Reina from outside the area with another sublime curler six minutes later to restore the two-goal cushion.
Two minutes before the break, Barcelona made it 4-1 courtesy of an outrageous goal from Luis Suarez as, with his back to goal he somehow delivered a backheel chip over Reina from Frenkie de Jong’s pass.
Mallorca at least came out fighting after the break, with Budimir heading home his and his side’s second of the night in the 64th minute to cut the deficit to two.
But it was left to that man Messi to have the final say, smashing home a drive in the 83rd minute for his 35th La Liga hat-trick to move ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo’s tally.
Provided by Press Association Sports
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