Lionel Messi hit his 21st Barcelona hat-trick as his 10-man side scored a thrilling 5-4 victory at Deportivo La Coruna.

Jordi Alba and Cristian Tello got the other goals for Barcelona on Saturday, which had Javier Mascherano sent-off on 48 minutes, while a Pizzi double, a Alex Bergantinos strike and an Alba own goal kept the home side in the game.

The win means Barcelona goes three points clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga.

Messi now has 11 league goals, two more than Cristiano Ronaldo who earlier scored for Real Madrid in a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo that kept Madrid eight points behind the Catalan side.

Alba put Barcelona ahead on the north-west coast after only two minutes, bursting into the area to meet a Cesc Fabregas pass and finish well and, five minutes later, the lead was doubled.

Messi dinked the ball out wide for Tello who moved from right to left and then back to his right foot before hitting an unstoppable shot past Dani Aranzubia in the Deportivo goal.

The pick

Barcelona’s third 10 minutes later was the pick of the evening. Mascherano played a forward pass from the halfway line that Fabregas controlled and back-heeled into the path of Messi who powerfully struck a left-footed shot into the top right hand corner.


Deportivo had been undone by Barcelona’s clever passing play in less than 20 minutes but came back quickly to earn a dubious penalty when Mascherano fouled Riki on 25 minutes that Pizzi converted.

Then, on 37 minutes, Bergantinos hit a shot from the edge of the area that Victor Valdes seemed to have covered but suddenly fumbled over the line to make it 2-3.

Barcelona appeared stunned only for Fabregas to then conjure up another brilliant pass for Messi to finish, this time with his right foot, to regain a two-goal cushion at the break.

However, Deportivo was not finished and within two minutes of the re-start Pizzi had smashed in his second from a free-kick.

Three minutes later Mascherano was given his marching orders for a second questionable clash with Riki who went down holding his face after the two tussled for a ball.

It was Messi who struck again for his third, wrestling to get the ball away from Spain’s World Cup winning defender Carlos Marchena before running at the remaining defenders before hitting a shot home to make it 5-3.

Again Deportivo hit back straightaway as Alba turned a ball into his own goal as he tried to stop Pizzi from hitting his own hat-trick.

Goalkeeper Aranzubia came forward for a last-minute corner but it was not to be for a battling Deportivo and Barcelona took the points in a breathtaking match.

Easy win

Earlier Gonzalo Higuain and Ronaldo hit a goal apiece as Real Madrid eased past its unambitious opponent.

Higuain put Madrid ahead in the 12th minute when he powered down the left wing and hit what looked like a cross that curled into the far corner.

Madrid had further chances but needed the help of the referee more than an hour later when he awarded what seemed a controversial penalty after Mesut Ozil went down under a challenge from Gustavo Cabral on 68 minutes.

Ronaldo made no mistake from the spot to make it nine league goals for the season and give Madrid the points.

The results: Spanish league: Malaga 2 (Isco 37, Joaquin 88) bt Valladolid 1 (Manucho 9); Real Madrid 2 (Higuain 11, Ronaldo 67-pen) bt Celta Vigo 0.

Valencia 3 (Soldado 26-pen, Tino 88, Nelson Valdez 90) bt Athletic Bilbao 2 (Aduriz 19 & 30); Deportivo la Coruna 4 (Pizzi 26-pen, 47, Alex 37, Alba 79-og) lost to Barcelona 5 (Alba 3, Tello 8, Messi 18, 43 & 77).

Italian league: Juventus 2 (Caceres 80, Pogba 82) bt Napoli 0; Lazio 3 (Hernanes 25, Candreva 41, Klose 49) bt AC Milan 2 (N. de Jong 61, Stephan El Shaarawy 79).

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