Lionel Messi led Spanish leaders Barcelona to a 5-1 home destruction of 10-man Osasuna on Sunday, adding four more goals to his astonishing tally for the season.
The FIFA World Player has now netted 33 league goals, and is on course to break the new record of 50 he set last season. He is 12 goals ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, who grabbed a hat-trick in Real Madrid’s 4-0 rout of Getafe.
Assistant coach Jordi Roura was again in charge of Barca, with head coach Tito Vilanova still in New York for treatment for his throat cancer.
Roura decided not to rest Messi and other regulars ahead of Wednesday’s Spanish cup semifinal away to Real Madrid — and was rewarded with another devastating display from Xavi and company.
Xavi set up Messi for the first goal after 12 minutes, only for French defender Raoul Loe to quickly make it 1-1 to Osasuna with a fierce left-foot drive.
However, in the 27th minute Osasuna’s Alejandro Arribas picked up a second yellow card for handball, and Messi calmly made it 2-1 from the resultant penalty.
Pedro made it 3-1 after being set up by Dani Alves, then Messi completed the rout with two quick-fire goals on the hour.
Real coach Jose Mourinho rested Sami Khedira, Marcelo, Alvaro Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso and Karim Benzema against Getafe, though not Ronaldo.
Real’s first goal — which should have been disallowed for a foul on Getafe keeper Miguel Moya — was scored by defender Sergio Ramos.
Then Ronaldo took centre stage with his 14th hat-trick since joining Real in 2009.
The pleasant win helped to improve the ambience at the Estadio Bernabeu after a week of rumours about a players’ revolt against Mourinho.