Messi hat-trick takes Barcelona to top of La Liga
La Liga, Camp Nou - Barcelona 4 (Messi 23' (pen), 45', 48') Celta Vigo 1 (Olaza 42')
It was Celta Vigo, however, who set the early tone, dominating the opening 20 minutes with a fascinating 4-4-2 system.
Barcelona took the lead after 23 minutes, though, when Joseph Aidoo handled inside the box from a Firpo cross, giving Messi the opportunity to open the scoring from the spot. The Argentinean made no mistake in rolling the ball into the back of the net.
Celta Vigo levelled things in spectacular fashion, with Lucas Olaza curling a freekick home after a contentious foul by Messi on the edge of the box. Typically, Messi struck back just minutes later on the stroke of half time, responding with his own stunning freekick effort.
Messi then scored yet another freekick just minutes into the second half to complete his hat-trick with Busquets coming off the bench to cap the scoring at 4-1, firing home after an Ousmane Dembele cross was poorly cleared.
This result sends Barcelona back to the top of La Liga heading into the international break, easing the pressure that had been building on Valverde after the defeat to Levante and home draw against Slavia Prague.
TALKING POINT - Was this performance and result enough to ease the pressure on Ernesto Valverde?
The cameras surrounded Valverde as he entered the home dugout before kick off. This provided an illustration of the pressure on the Barcelona manager coming into this match. This win will stem the criticism he has faced of late, but this performances was warped by the dead ball hat-trick scored by Messi. Barcelona were poor in the first half and never quite hit top gear, despite the flattering scoreline.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Where would Barcelona be without Messi? Well, it’s quite possible that Valverde would be out of a job. This was far from the sort of performance the under-pressure Barca boss would have hoped for, but the brilliance of his captain was enough to get the Catalans over the line. The highlight of Messi’s display was, of course, the stunning freekick on the stroke of half time just moments after Celta Vigo had equalised. And then the other one he scored on the other side of half time. He’s an alien.
Celta Vigo - Blanco 6, Junca 5, Mallo 5, Aidoo 6, Olaza 7, Araujo 5, Beltran 5, Diop 6, Lobotka 7, Aspas 6, Sisto 7. Subs - Mendez 5, Denis 5, Fernandez 6.
22’ PENALTY KICK TO BARCELONA! The referee shows no hesitation in pointing to the spot after a handball from Aidoo.
23’ GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Celta Vigo: Barcelona don't deserve the lead, but they have taken it nonetheless. The handball from Aidoo gave Messi the chance to score from the spot and the number 10 rolls the ball into the back of the net. Celta Vigo will feel hard done by. They have played well.
37’ GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO... NO! Arthur dribbles to the byline, cuts the ball back, it squirms though Blanco's legs and Messi finishes from close range. But the ball was out before Arthur played it!
42’ GOAL! Barcelona 1-1 Celta Vigo: Celta Vigo are back on level terms! What a brilliant goal! Olaza took the freekick given away by Messi on the edge of the box and his effort was almost Messi-esque as he finds the back of the net! Celta Vigo have equalised just minutes before the break!
46’ GOAL! Barcelona 2-1 Celta Vigo: Anything you can do, Messi can do better! You just knew that was going to happen. Messi curls a trademark freekick into the back of the net from 20 yards out and gives Barcelona the lead just moments after the away side had restored parity!
49’ GOAL! Barcelona 3-1 Celta Vigo: My goodness! You just knew that was going to end up in the back of the net! Barcelona won a freekick on the edge of the box and Messi clipped his shot over the wall and into the back of the net. These are like penalty kicks for him! Incredible!
85’ GOAL! Barcelona 4-1 Celta Vigo: That's the points in the bag! Dembele's cross into the middle is half-cleared, Busquets then controls on the edge of the box and guides a very nice finish into the back of the net! The midfielder gave Blanco the eye with his shot!
Lionel Messi has now scored 10 La Liga goals against Celtic Vigo. They are the 22nd team he has scored 10 or more La Liga goals against.
Antoine Griezmann and Messi failed to play a single pass between themselves in the first half.
Messi has now equaled Cristiano Ronaldo’s record as the player with the most hat-tricks in La Liga history (34).