Fresh after scoring Argentina's match winning-goal against Brazil, Lionel Messi continued his incredible goal scoring form with a hat-trick against Almeria today. Barcelona team-mate Bojan Krkic bagged a brace as the defending La Liga champions strolled to a 8-0 victory at lowly Almeria.
Pep Guardiola's side raced into a 5-0 lead before half-time in a hugely one-sided contest. Messi opened the scoring after 17 minutes and Andres Iniesta took advantage of poor defending to score the second just two minutes later. A Santiago Acasiete own goal made it 3-0 before the half hour mark, Pedro made it four ten minutes prior to the interval and Messi added his second in Barça's very next attack. Substitute Bojan added two in the second half and Messi completed his hat-trick as Guardiola's side ran riot in Andalusia.
Barcelona came into this match on the back of five straight Primera Division victories. Almeria, meanwhile, were struggling at the wrong end of the table, having won just once in the league all season. Reports in Spain suggested that coach Juanma Lillo, a friend and mentor of Guardiola, would lose his job if his side lost this match. But any other outcome seemed highly unlikely as the game got under way.
David Villa saw an angled shot saved by Diego Alves and drilled the rebound wide as Barcelona almost took the lead after just two minutes. Victor Valdes saved from Pablo Piatti at the other end, but normal service was resumed shortly afterwards as Messi came close after seven minutes. But the Argentina winger, fresh from scoring the winner against Brazil in a midweek friendly, was not to be denied for long. The 23 year-old played a sublime one-two with Villa on the edge of the box, moved into space and beat Alves with an unstoppable angled drive to make it 1-0.
Two minutes later, Iniesta made it two after some poor defending from the home side. The Spain midfielder saw his cross blocked, but raced onto the loose ball to beat an exposed Alves. The third was an even bigger gift from Almeria, as Acasiete stuck out a foot to divert Maxwell's low cross past his own keeper after 27 minutes. Pedro then latched onto a pass from deep and poked the ball past Alves, who had come racing off his line, to make it 4-0.
Almost every Barcelona attack was ending up in a goal at this stage and from the next one, Messi made it five. Pedro advanced into the area and squared for the Argentinian, who saw his initial effort saved by Alves, but gratefully poked home the rebound for his second of the night.
Guardiola looked almost embarrassed on the sidelines and made two changes at the break, with Seydou Keita and Thiago Alcantara replacing Xavi and Iniesta. Piatti then hit the bar for Almeria as the reigning champions' intensity dropped. But Bojan, who minutes earlier had replaced Pedro, made it six with a quality finish shortly after the hour, when he was set up by Messi on the edge of the box and found his way between two defenders before clipping the ball past the hapless Alves.
Messi then sealed his hat-trick six minutes later, when he poked home from close range after Alves had parried Villa's first-time shot. And five minutes after that, the Argentinian strode forward unchallenged from the centre circle to set up Bojan in the area for a simple finish to make it 8-0. There were still 17 minutes left and Barcelona could have reached double figures, but Villa missed a great chance to write his name on the scoresheet with 11 minutes left and the game ended 8-0. The Andalusians' humiliating defeat leaves them in the bottom three with just nine points from 12 games.