Messi treble sees Barcelona secure record
Barcelona set a Spanish record of 35 matches unbeaten in all competitions with a 5-1 win at nine-man Rayo Vallecano in La Liga last night helped by a Lionel Messi hat-trick.
The league leaders broke Real Madrid's 1988/'89 undefeated run of 34 games after Ivan Rakitic opened the scoring before Messi's treble and a late Arda Turan strike sealed the points.
In the English Championship, Hull City missed the chance to return to the top of the table when they were beaten 1-0 at St Andrew's by Birmingham City.
Steve Bruce's side needed only a point to overhaul Burnley at the summit; however, they were beaten by a deflected first-half strike from Jon Toral who is on loan from Arsenal.
Meanwhile, the second leg of Manchester United's Europa League last-16 tie against Liverpool on March 17 will kick off at the later time of 8.05.
Both United and Trafford Council had asked Uefa to consider moving the game from its original time slot of 6pm, citing safety fears. Large crowds are expected in the city for the St Patrick's Day game between the North-west rivals.
The first leg at Anfield next Thursday also kicks off at 8.05, as scheduled.
Elsewhere, former Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue could have a part to play in Sunderland's relegation fight as he closes in on a short-term contract.
Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce has confirmed that he hopes to clinch a deal soon which will keep the 32-year-old full-back at the Stadium of Light for the remainder of the season after a successful trial on Wearside.
Allardyce said of the Ivory Coast international: "We will try to sign him by the end of the week if we can negotiate a contract until the end of the season."