Messi hat-trick steers Barca to un­beaten 35-game record

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

Lionel Messi scored a hat trick as Barcelona de­feated nine-man Rayo Vallecano 5-1 to be­come the first Span­ish club to play 35 con­sec­u­tive matches with­out a loss, break­ing Real Madrid's record of nearly three decades ago.

Two goals in as many min­utes mid­way through the first-half killed the game as a con­test as Ivan Rakitic and Messi net­ted be­fore Diego Llorente saw a straight red card for a high chal­lenge on Rakitic.

Messi com­pleted his hat-trick ei­ther side of Manu­cho's con­so­la­tion for Rayo. Luis Suarez also missed a penalty af­ter Manuel Iturra was also sent-off for the hosts be­fore Arda Tu­ran rounded off the scor­ing with his first Barca goal.

Barca now lead Atletico Madrid by eight points with Real Madrid a fur­ther four points adrift in third with 11 games re­main­ing.

De­spite Rayo's pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion just above the rel­e­ga­tion zone, Barca boss Luis En­rique showed the Madrid side plenty of re­spect by nam­ing his strong­est side bar at full­back where Jeremy Mathieu and Sergi Roberto re­placed Jordi Alba and the sus­pended Dani Alves. Rayo were un­beaten in their seven league games them­selves and forced Barca 'keeper Clau­dio Bravo into a smart early save as the Chilean in­ter­na­tional flew to his right to turn away Adrian Em­barba's drive.

How­ever, Rayo's high de­fen­sive line was of­fer­ing plenty of en­cour­age­ment to the Euro­pean cham­pi­ons and it seemed only a mat­ter of time be­fore Barca took ad­van­tage as Car­los made a good save at his near post to deny Messi.

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