Highlights: Lionel Messi hat-trick helps Barcelona thrash Rayo Vallecano 6-1 to top La Liga table
Barcelona thrashed Rayo Vallecano 6-1 to leapfrog Real Madrid to go top of La Liga with a one-point lead (62 points to Madrid’s 61 points). Lionel Messi was the star if the show with a hat-trick while Luis Suarez also scored a brace. Both sides also ended the game with a man sent off.
This was Messi’s 24th hat-trick in La Liga, moving past Ronaldo’s mark of 23. He is also now tied with the Real Madrid forward on 30 league goals this season.
Luis Suarez opened the scoring with his first touch of the game in just the fifth minute after a Xavi through ball found him in space. The first half ended 1-0 in favour of the Catalan club, and it was the second half that provided all the action.
Gerard Pique doubled the lead from a corner kick after Jeremy Mathieu’s header rebounded off the post and Pique was there to clean up. Rayo’s Tito was then booked for a challenge in the box – his second of the game – and he was sent off in the 54th minute.
Messi took the penalty but his attempt was initially saved. But the referee asked him to retake it and he slotted the second shot into the bottom right corner. Messi then got his second with an easy tap in after Suarez’s shot was parried away by goalkeeper Alvarez.
The Argentine completed his hat-trick with a smooth move that saw him escape a defender with his first touch, then rounding the keeper to slot home and complete another record-making hat-trick.
Dani Alves was shown a straight red card for bringing down Alberto Bueno in the box and the resultant penalty was converted by Bueno who took a shot right down the centre of goal. Suarez then scored in stoppage time, this time Messi turning provider with a through ball.
Barcelona meet Real Madrid at the Camp Nou in the second El Clasico on 22 March in a match that will likely decide who wins the Liga title in May.