Rediff.com  » Sports » La Liga: 'Decisive' Messi nets with 50th career hat-trick

La Liga: 'Decisive' Messi nets with 50th career hat-trick

February 24, 2019 10:30 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their second goal against Sevilla at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in Seville, Spain, on Saturday

IMAGE: Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their second goal against Sevilla at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in Seville, Spain, on Saturday. Photograph: Marcelo del Pozo/Reuters

Lionel Messi scored his 50th career hat-trick to fire Barcelona to a 4-2 win at Sevilla on Saturday after the champions had twice fallen behind, giving the Catalans a 10-point lead at the top of La Liga.

Sevilla, who have only won once in the league in 2019, took the lead midway through the first half through veteran winger Jesus Navas but were soon pegged back by an unstoppable volley from Messi.

 

The home side capitalised on sleepy defending from Barca to re-take the lead before halftime as Gabriel Mercado pounced in the area.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde made two attacking changes at the start of the second period by introducing Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto and got the intended reaction when the France winger laid the ball off to Messi just inside the area and the Argentine lashed it into the top corner.

Messi, who has struggled for form in recent weeks due to a niggling injury, looked on a mission to grab the winner and after twice coming close he completed his treble to put Barca ahead in the 85th minute, reacting quickly to a poor Sevilla clearance to dink the ball over goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.

Luis Suarez made sure of the points by scoring deep in stoppage time, chipping Vaclik after being played through by a pass from Messi.

Barca lead the standings on 57 points after 25 games while second-placed Atletico Madrid have 47 but can reduce the gap back to seven when they host Villarreal on Sunday.

Sevilla fell to fifth, slipping out of the Champions League places behind Getafe.

"Messi is decisive and superlative, every team has decisive players but we have the best in the world," said Barca coach Ernesto Valverde.

"It's not just his goals either, but because he always delivers in the right place at the right time."

Sevilla took the lead through a lightning quick counter-attack as Wissam Ben Yedder marauded down the pitch and played in Navas, who took one touch to control and the other to slide the ball through the legs of the diving Gerard Pique and beyond the outstretched Marc-Andre ter Stegen into the bottom corner.

Sevilla’s intensity prevented Barca from replicating their usual slick passing game and it took a superb goal from Messi to pull them level, the Argentine swivelling to meet a cross from Ivan Rakitic on the volley, leaving Vaclik with no chance.

Sevilla are Messi's favourite victims, and last year he came off the bench to score twice in two minutes and rescue a 2-0 draw from 2-0 down.

He went one better this time and has now scored 36 times in 37 games against the Andalusians.

"It’s always tough to win here, we know what it is like to come to this stadium and how good Sevilla’s players are, they made things very hard for us by taking the lead but we knew how to overcome all that," Messi added.

It was his 44th hat-trick for Barca, with 32 coming in La Liga, eight in the Champions League, three in the Copa del Rey and one in the Spanish Super Cup. He has also struck six trebles for Argentina.

Getafe dream of Champions League football after beating Rayo

Getafe climbed into the top four of La Liga on Saturday with a 2-1 win over neighbours Rayo Vallecano, boosting the Madrid minnows' hopes of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time.

Striker Jaime Mata powered the hosts into the lead midway through the first half with a thumping finish into the roof of the net while they had a goal ruled out for offside later in the half.

Despite dominating most of the game against struggling Rayo, Getafe were pegged back in the 58th minute by a well struck shot from the edge of the box from visiting striker Raul de Tomas, who is on loan from Real Madrid.

But Getafe, who threw away a two-goal lead at Eibar last week to remain outside the top four, would not be denied victory and they re-took the lead 10 minutes later when Mata burst into the area and laid the ball on for strike partner Jorge Molina to tap into the net from close range.

The win takes Getafe, who returned to the top flight in 2017, into fourth place on 39 points, two clear of Sevilla who host leaders Barcelona later on Saturday.

Rayo remain in the relegation zone, sitting 19th on 23 points.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
Source: REUTERS
© Copyright 2022 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

IPL 2022

IPL 2022