Messi hits treble as Barça edge nine-goal thriller
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Lionel Messi hit his 21st Barcelona hat-trick as his ten-man side edged a thrilling 5-4 victory at Deportivo La Coruna.

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

The win means Barça go three points clear of Atletico Madrid, who play on Sunday, 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 Los Blancos eight points behind the Catalan side.

Barça coach Tito Vilanova was relieved to win the game. "We'll take the positives from that," he said. "The three points, lots of goals and we controlled the game with ten men for a long time. The game was a bit crazy and Leo [Messi] has travelled a long way this week but he was still incredible."

Meanwhile, Deportivo coach Jose Luis Oltra had mixed feelings on the defeat. He said: "It's a strange result, we let in five goals, but we scored four and against Barça, I think the fans will be happy with our performance and they were spectacular, especially when we were three down, we'll keep trying to achieve things for them." 

Leo has travelled a long way this week but he was still incredible.
Tito Vilanova on Lionel Messi

Alba put Barça 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.

Away side in cruise control
Barça's third ten 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 Barça's clever passing play in less than 20 minutes, but came back quickly to earn a 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.

Barça 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, Depor were not finished and within two minutes of the restart Pizzi had smashed in his second from a free-kick. Three minutes later Mascherano was given his marching orders for a second clash with Riki, who went down holding his face after the two tussled for a ball.

Messi then hit the bar from a free-kick and the action was non-stop as the home side tried to find an unlikely equaliser. It was Messi who struck again for his third, wrestling to get the ball away from Spain's FIFA World Cup™-winning defender Carlos Marchena before running at the remaining defenders and hitting a shot home to make it 5-3.

Again Depor hit back straight away, 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 Barça took the points from a breathtaking match.