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Messi hits hat-trick to celebrate 300th league appearance

Updated: 2015-02-16 10:32

Messi hits hat-trick to celebrate 300th league appearance

Barcelona's Lionel Messi (R) celebrates his hat-trick with teammate Neymar during their Spanish first division soccer match against Levante at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona February 15, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

MADRID - Lionel Messi celebrated his 300th league appearance for FC Barcelona with a hat-trick which keeps his side hot on the trail of Spanish BBVA Primera Liga leaders Real Madrid as they enjoyed an easy 5-0 win at home to Getafe.

Messi had scored in his 10 previous appearances in the Camp Nou and wasted little time in making it 11 in a row when he netted in the 38th minute after a smart piece of control.

By then Barca already led 1-0 after Neymar opened the Catalans' account after just 17 minutes and although Messi had a second goal wrongly ruled out for offside before the half-time whistle, he quickly assured the result with further goals in the 59th and 65th minutes before Luis Suarez ended the scoring with 15 minutes remaining.

Barcelona have now won their last 12 games in all competitions and are just one point behind Real Madrid, who defeated Deportivo la Coruna in a flat performance that was at times booed by the fans in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Saturday evening.

A curling shot from Isco put Madrid ahead and Karim Benzema sealed the win with just under 20 minutes on the clock. But apart from a Gareth Bale shot which hit the bar in the first half, there was little for Real Madrid fans to cheer as Cristiano Ronaldo had another poor game.

Atletico Madrid, who last weekend beat Real Madrid so convincingly, were brought crashing back down to earth by a 2-0 defeat away to Celta Vigo. A Nolito penalty just before the hour and a goal from Fabian Orellana take Atletico back to 7 points behind Real and 6 behind Barca on a very disappointing night for Diego Simeone's side.

Valencia remain in fourth place thanks to an Alvaro Negredo penalty which was enough to give them a 1-0 win at home to Getafe, who had just one chance all game as Pablo Sarabia failed to stab the ball home when unmarked at the far post.

Fifth-placed Sevilla kept up their challenge for a top-four finish with a 3-0 win over struggling local rivals Cordoba. Goals from Krychoviak, who would later be sent off, Carlos Bacca and Iborra gave Unai Emery's side a comfortable win while deepening Cordoba's problems in the relegation zone.

Villarreal's battle for a place in Europe suffered a big setback, however, as they were beaten 2-0 away to Rayo Vallecano, who took three important points and just their third home win of the season thanks to second half goals from Alberto Bueno and Gail Kakuta.

Granada's situation hardly improved either following a drab 0-0 draw at home to Athletic Club Bilbao. Granada may feel happier with the result after playing for 20 minutes with a man less after Insua was sent off for a wild challenge, while Athletic are still struggling for any kind of form.

Finally Malaga's promising season looks as if it was a long time in the past as they lost 2-0 at home to an improving Espanyol.

Alvaro and Sergio Garcia gave the Barcelona based side three points which pull them well clear of the relegation zone.

The round of matches finishes on Monday when Eibar entertain Elche.

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