Messi puts on another classy show

Barcelona ace scores 15th hat-trick in La Liga

 Lionel Messi’s 15th La Liga hat-trick lit up a nerve-jangling nine-goal thriller as Barcelona survived Javier Mascherano’s red card to win 5-4 at Deportivo Coruna to go three points clear at the top on Saturday.

Messi’s latest masterclass overshadowed Real Madrid’s drab 2-0 triumph at home to promoted Celta Vigo. Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo (penalty) scored the goals that lifted Jose Mourinho’s team to fourth place, eight points behind arch rivals Barca.
World Player of the Year Messi, who is expecting the imminent birth of his first child, has notched 71 goals for club and country in 2012.

The Argentine has 11 goals in eight outings this season. Unbeaten Barca have 22 points, three ahead of Atletico Madrid.

Malaga are third on 17 points after Joaquin made amends for fluffing a penalty by grabbing the winner in a 2-1 victory at home to Real Valladolid.

Barca looked to be cruising to a seventh win of the campaign when they raced into a three-goal lead after 18 minutes at the Depor’s Riazor stadium.

Jordi Alba sped on to a Cesc Fabregas pass to score in the third minute, Cristian Tello added a second and then Messi smashed in his first of the night after Fabregas’ clever backheel.

The home side pulled two goals back against the run of play through Pizzi (penalty) and Alex Bergantinos before Messi made the most of another Fabregas assist to make it 4-2 at the break. In a frenetic start to the second half Depor midfielder Pizzi curled in a stunning 47th-minute free kick and Mascherano was harshly shown a second yellow card two minutes later.

Barca coach Tito Vilanova reacted by replacing Fabregas with Xavi before Messi, who also struck a free kick against the post, appeared to have killed the game when he made it 5-3 with a trademark run and clinical finish in the 77th minute.

A bizarre own goal from Barca full back Jordi Alba, when he lobbed keeper Victor Valdes from inside his own penalty area, gave Depor fresh hope but they were unable to make some late pressure count.

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