Messi Dazzles as Valencia Frazzle
Lionel Messi produced another dazzling display as Barcelona came from behind to defeat Valencia, while Athletic Bilbao beat Malaga and Atletico Madrid were held by Sporting Gijon.
Messi was in irresistible form with four goals for Barcelona in their 5-1 victory over third-placed Valencia.
Valencia silenced the Camp Nou faithful by taking the lead inside ten minutes, with Pablo Piatti taking advantage of uncertainty in the Barca defence to provide the finish to Sofiane Feghouli’s right-wing cross.
Messi drew Barca level midway through the first half when he reacted quickly to a loose ball to fire a shot underneath goalkeeper Diego Alves from a tight angle.
The Argentine superstar showed his sharpness again six minutes later to put Barcelona in front as he scooped the ball into the roof of the net from close range after Alves had kept out his initial effort.
A series of fine saves from Alves, as well as the woodwork, kept Valencia in with a chance until Messi completed his hat-trick in the 76th minute with a neat finish on the rebound after Cristian Tello had been denies.
There was still time for Messi to race clear of the visiting defence and chip home for a fourth, and then for Xavi to dink in a fifth, to leave Barca ten points behind fierce rivals Real Madrid at the top of the table.