Tue, Feb 17, 2015 - Page 19 News List

Messi scores hat-trick, Barca win 5-0

GOALS GALORE:Argentina international Lionel Messi took his La Liga goal tally to 269, as his team reduced Real Madrid’s lead at the top of the league to just one point

AFP, MADRID

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, right, goes past Levante UD’s Simao Junior during their Spanish La Liga match at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday.

Photo: EPA

Lionel Messi marked his 300th Spanish La Liga appearance with his 31st Barcelona hat-trick as his team moved within a point of Real Madrid at the top of the table with a 5-0 win over Levante UD.

Barca have now won 11 straight matches in all competitions and never looked in danger despite coach Luis Enrique making eight changes from the side that beat Villarreal in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday last week.

Messi teed up Neymar to open the scoring early on and then assumed scoring duties himself to take his all-time La Liga tally to 269 goals.

However, even the Argentine was upstaged by a stunning overhead-kick from substitute Luis Suarez to round off the scoring.

Victory tied former coach Pep Guardiola’s best ever run of consecutive wins during his hugely successful four-year spell in charge at the Camp Nou.

Barca broke the deadlock after 17 minutes when Neymar mishit Messi’s pass over the Levante defense only for the ball to spin high into the air and drop into the far corner of the net.

The two South Americans combined once more 20 minutes later only for Messi to be wrongly flagged offside when he seemed set to double the hosts advantage.

Messi did not have to wait long for his first goal, though, as Marc Bartra robbed the ball deep inside the Levante half and fed his teammate to slot home his 35th goal of the season.

Messi added his second of the afternoon just before the hour mark as Sergio Busquets’s lovely pass into Pedro was turned across goal by the Spanish international and Messi tapped home with his right foot.

Neymar was then upended inside the area by Ivan Lopez and Messi sent Marino the wrong way for his fifth hat-trick of the season.

Suarez was introduced at Neymar’s expense shortly afterward and the former Liverpool man provided his own moment of brilliance as he caught Adriano’s cross flush on the volley for just his fourth La Liga goal 17 minutes from time.

In Sunday’s other La Liga games, Valencia needed an Alvaro Negredo penalty 19 minutes from time to see off Getafe 1-0 and move back up to fourth in the league, while Rayo Vallecano de Madrid and RC Celta de Vigo both recorded 2-0 home wins over Villarreal and Atletico Madrid respectively.

SERIE A

Fredy Guarin scored two majestic long-range goals, one with each foot, and was involved in two more as he led Inter to a much-needed 4-1 win away to Atalanta BC in the Italian Serie A on Sunday.

Ivorian pair Gervinho and Seydou Doumbia failed to inspire second-placed AS Roma, who were held 0-0 at home by bottom club Parma, while AC Milan’s troubles continued in a 1-1 draw at home to Empoli.

M’Baye Niang scored twice to lead Genoa to a 5-2 win over Hallas Verona, relegation-threatened Cagliari held Torino 1-1 away and SS Lazio stayed in the race for a Champions League place by winning 1-0 at Udinese.

Leaders Juventus were held 2-2 away to AC Cesena while AC Chievo Verona saw off visitors UC Sampdoria 2-1.

BUNDESLIGA

SC Freiburg defeated Hertha BSC 2-0 on Sunday to overtake the home side on goal difference and provisionally escape the German Bundesliga relegation zone. Felix Klaus put the visitors ahead in the 14th minute, holding off Marvin Plattenhardt to prod Karim Guede’s cross in off the post. Maximilian Philipp made it 2-0 when he met Jonathan Schmid’s corner with a flying header in the 52nd minute.

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