Messi, Ronaldo hit hat-tricks in Barca, Real routs

Messi, Ronaldo hit hat-tricks in Barca, Real routs

Argentine magician Messi registered his 12th career hat-trick in a Barcelona shirt in a 5-0 mauling of Atletico Madrid yesterday as the defending champions moved into second place in the table, a point behind Real Betis.

Messi, who also hit three in the 8-0 rout of Sporting Gijon last weekend, leads La Liga goalscoring charts with eight, one in front of Portuguese star Ronaldo whose hat-trick came in the 6-2 defeat of Rayo Vallecano.

Real are in fourth place, one point behind Barcelona and third-placed Sevilla. "Messi was again decisive, all you can do is congratulate him," said Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola.

"He is a player who cannot be explained; you just have to see him." Atletico had gone into the game at Camp Nou with the league's best defensive record, having conceded just once in four games.

But once Portuguese midfielder Tiago Mendes hit their crossbar on four minutes it was one way traffic all the way with Barca, who were held 2-2 by Valencia in midweek, at their dominant best.

David Villa opened the scoring on nine minutes with the second coming on 15 minutes when a quick piece of attacking play found Messi free in the area and his blocked shot bounced off the unlucky Brazilian Miranda into an open net.

After 26 minutes it was Messi again who burst into the penalty area from the right and beat goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with a low left footed drive. Messi finished a diagonal run on 78 minutes with a clipped shot into the bottom right-hand corner and rounded off his display in the 90th minute, exchanging a one-two with Villa before hitting a powerful shot home from the left hand side of the area.

Real Madrid, who slumped to defeat at Levante last weekend before a goalless draw at Racing Santander in midweek, crushed Rayo Vallecano 6-2, despite playing nearly all the second half with 10 men and having leaked a goal after just 14 seconds.

Ronaldo's hat-trick included two penalties with the other goals coming from Gonzalo Higuain, Karim Benzema and Rafael Varane on his home debut.
For Rayo Vallecano, Miguel Perez 'Michu' Cuesta scored twice.

In their first meeting in eight years, Rayo silenced a packed Santiago Bernabeu by taking the lead in the first minute. Lass Diarra gave the ball away to Michu and the Rayo midfielder was able find Raul Tamudo in space on the edge of the area. His shot was parried by goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Michu followed up to slot the ball home.

Diarra paid for his error when coach Jose Mourinho replaced him with Mesut Ozil after only 28 minutes and from then on the momentum was with the home team.
Ronaldo evened the game up on 39 minutes and on the stroke of half-time Higuain put Madrid ahead from close range.

Real started the second half as they finished the first and when Kaka won a penalty on 50 minutes, after a trip by Jose Maria Movilla, Ronaldo converted the spot kick.
Michu pulled it back to 3-2 on 56 minutes, poking home a corner at the far post.

A minute later Angel Di Maria was red-carded for handball, but the numerical difference never looked like being a telling factor and when Varane cleverly met a corner with a delicate flick to put them 4-2 up on 66 minutes Madrid never looked back.

Substitute Benzema continued his good early season form with a goal from a right footed drive on 72 minutes and Ronaldo rounded off the rout with another penalty on 78 minutes after a trip on him by goalkeeper Gimenez.

Mourinho said it had been a tough decision to withdraw Diarra. "It pained me to do it but the team needed it," said Mourinho. "We then created more, it was just a shame that I had to take off Kaka later when we went down to 10 men because he was having a good game."

Earlier, evergreen striker Frederic Kanoute scored the only goal as unbeaten Sevilla sent Valencia crashing to their first defeat, despite finishing the match with just nine men. Piotr Trochowski and Julien Escude were sent-off in the second half while Ever Banega missed a penalty for Valencia.

Aritz Aduriz was later red-carded to complete Valencia's misery.