Messi hat trick helps Barca halt win­less se­quence

The Korea Times - - SPORTS -

MADRID (AP) — After a rare bad foul that led to a yel­low card and a Celta Vigo goal, Lionel Messi made up for his er­ror with two per­fectly struck free kicks to claim a hat trick and lead Barcelona to an­other vic­tory.

It was the 34th Span­ish league tre­ble for Messi, ty­ing for­mer Real Madrid star Cris­tiano Ron­aldo for the most in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Messi’s hat trick gave Barcelona a 4-1 win over Celta on Satur­day, end­ing the team’s two-game win­less se­quence and leav­ing it joint top with Real Madrid, which routed Eibar 4-0 with two goals by Karim Ben­zema.

Ser­gio Bus­quets also scored for Barcelona, which was com­ing off a league loss at Le­vante and a home draw against Slavia Prague in the Cham­pi­ons League.

“We needed this vic­tory,” coach Ernesto Valverde said. “A team like Barcelona has to re­bound quickly after a set­back.”

Barcelona and Madrid have 25 points, two more than Real So­ciedad. The Span­ish pow­er­houses have a game in hand be­cause their “cla­sico” match was post­poned un­til De­cem­ber due to last month’s sep­a­ratist rally in the Cata­lan cap­i­tal.

Messi put Barcelona ahead with a penalty in the first half, but his foul near half­time prompted a yel­low card, and Celta’s equal­izer from a free kick by Lu­cas Olaza.

Messi made up for his blun­der with two ex­cel­lent free kicks, one in first-half stop­page time and the other a few min­utes after the break. Both times he sent a curl­ing shot over the wall and into the top cor­ner.

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