Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi was in irresistible form at the Camp Nou as he struck a hat-trick in 25 minutes to fire his side past Celta Vigo 4-1 on Saturday night.
Messi registered his first hat-trick of the season as Barca surged back to the top of the La Liga table after a tricky recent run of form.
Barca slipped to a 3-1 La Liga defeat at Levante last week, then dropped points in the UEFA Champions League with a goalless draw at home to Czech side Slavia Prague. But the Catalan giants bounced back in style, with Messi leading the way with a superb hat-trick.
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A soft-looking award of a penalty gifted Messi the opportunity to put Barca in front from the spot on 23 minutes before Celta's Lucas Olaza silenced the stadium three minutes before the break with a brilliant free-kick.
But anything Olaza could do, Messi could do better, and he did it TWICE with two stunning free-kick strikes either side of half-time.
His first effort came just before the break, with the second – a near carbon copy of the first – coming at the start of the second half before Sergio Busquets put the seal on a 4-1 victory.
Messi's treble gave the Argentine hero his 34th La Liga hat-trick, drawing level with the record held by his Portuguese rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
But with Ronaldo now plying his trade in Serie A with Juventus, the coast is clear for Messi to surpass his longtime rival and stand alone as the most prolific hat-trick scorer in La Liga history.
"We have a very big advantage, we have the best player in the world on our side who is also the best at taking free-kicks," said Busquets in praise of Messi.
"Little by little he has been improving at free-kicks, he used to find them hard. Having him around gives us a real boost."
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde also paid tribute to his matchwinning star.
"With Messi anything is possible," he said.
"He dominates the art of free-kick taking, and opponents know they cannot afford to give away fouls near our area. When they do, we try to take advantage.
"When you lose a game it's always important to win the next one, especially at a club like ours. The other day we had a painful defeat and we had to win today."
Barcelona now sit at the top of La Liga once more, level on points with rivals Real Madrid.
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