Mon, Sep 26, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Messi, Ronaldo strike hat-tricks in Barca, Real wins

AFP, MADRID

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi takes a free-kick during their match against Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both hit hat-tricks as Barcelona and Real Madrid went on a Spanish goal rampage on Saturday, shrugging off worryingly lackluster midweek performances.

Argentine magician Messi registered his 12th career hat-trick in a Barcelona shirt in a 5-0 mauling of Atletico Madrid as the defending champions moved into second place in the table, a point behind Real Betis Balompie.

Messi, who also hit three in the 8-0 rout of Sporting de Gijon last weekend, leads La Liga goalscoring charts with eight, one in front of Portuguese star Ronaldo, whose hat-trick came in the 6-2 defeat of Rayo Vallecano de Madrid.

Real are in fourth place, one point behind Barcelona and third-placed Sevilla.

Atletico had gone into the game at Camp Nou with the league’s best defensive record, having conceded just once in four games.

However, once Portuguese midfielder Tiago Mendes hit their crossbar on four minutes it was one way traffic all the way with Barca, who were held 2-2 by Valencia in midweek, at their dominant best.

David Villa opened the scoring on nine minutes with the second coming on 15 minutes when a quick piece of attacking play found Messi free in the area and his blocked shot bounced off the unlucky Brazilian Miranda into an open net.

After 26 minutes, it was Messi again who burst into the penalty area from the right and beat goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with a low left footed drive.

Messi finished a diagonal run on 78 minutes with a clipped shot into the bottom right-hand corner and rounded off his display in the 90th minute, exchanging a one-two with Villa before hitting a powerful shot home from the left hand side of the area.

Ronaldo’s hat-trick included two penalties with the other goals coming from Gonzalo Higuain, Karim Benzema and Rafael Varane on his home debut.

Earlier, evergreen striker Frederic Kanoute scored the only goal as unbeaten Sevilla sent Valencia crashing to their first defeat, despite finishing the match with just nine men.

In other action, Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal played to a 1-1 draw.

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