Monday, July 16, 2018 | ePaper
Messi`s hat-trick helps Barca make history
Xinhua, Madrid :
FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Leganes at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain on Saturday.
Leo Messi scored a hat-trick as Barcelona made history with a 3-1 win at home over Leganes to momentarily move 12 points clear at the top of the Liga Santander.
The win means Barcelona equal the 38-game record for remaining unbeaten in La Liga set by Real Sociedad in 1980, but more importantly it piles the pressure on Atletico Madrid who play away to neighbors Real Madrid on Sunday.
Messi had been struggling with a groin injury, but opened the scoring with a magnificent free kick in the 27th minute and made it 2-0 five minutes later.
Perhaps thinking of their Champions League tie in Rome in midweek the Barca players seemed to take their foot off the gas and Nabil El Zhar gave Leganes hope in the 68th minute.
However, Messi was on hand again to net Barca's third with a close range finish after being set up by Ousmane Dembele.
Betis temporarily at least, moved into fifth place with a 2-0 home victory over Eibar thanks to Sergio Leon's 11th goal of the season and an own goal from Anaitz Arbilla. Betis have won their last four games and have not conceded a goal in five of their last six matches.
Celta Vigo gave their hopes of playing in Europe a big boost as Lago Aspas scored a hat-trick in their 4-0 win at home to Sevilla, who looked exhausted following their Champions League game on Tuesday and who are suddenly in real danger of not qualifying for Europe next season.