Saturday 24 February 2018

La Liga hat-trick 15 just a number to modest Messi

European round-up

Lionel Messi scored his 15th La Liga hat-trick as Barcelona survived Javier Mascherano's red card to claim a thrilling 5-4 win at Deportivo Coruna ahead of their Champions league encounter with Celtic tomorrow.

Fabregas set up Jordi Alba's opener before Cristian Tello and Messi both followed suit as Barcelona roared to 3-0 just 18 minutes in at Riazor Stadium.

But, after Deportivo replied with a Luis Pizzi penalty and an Alex Bergantinos strike, some dubious officiating saw Mascherano sent off in the 49th minute, and the visitors needed Messi's superb individual effort 13 minutes from time to stay unbeaten and secure the victory over a resilient Deportivo side.

Messi continues to light up the Primera Division and his treble took his tally for 2012 to 59 -- beating his previous record of two years ago.

"Statistics are only numbers," a typically modest Messi said. "I'm only concerned with winning the three points whenever possible."

The entertaining victory kept Barcelona eight points ahead of Real Madrid, who laboured to a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo helped by Cristiano Ronaldo's 15th goal of the season.

Madrid dominated for large spells but were grateful for slices of luck in both their goals, with first Gonzalo Higuain's cross-cum-shot looping over the unfortunate Celta Vigo goalkeeper Alvarez Sergio in the 11th minute.

Then Ronaldo made sure of the points midway through the second half after Mesut Ozil tumbled in the area following a rather innocuous challenge from defender Gustavo Cabral.

Meanwhile, Schalke warmed up for their Champions League date with Arsenal on Wednesday with a 2-1 away victory over defending Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund.

A sublime strike from Ibrahim Afellay opened the scoring for the visitors with 14 minutes gone, and Marco Hoger made it 2-0 three minutes into the second half.

Robert Lewandowski responded eight minutes later with a header, but Schalke held on to stay in touch with runaway league leaders Bayern Munich, who trashed Dusseldorf 5-0.

Juventus moved three points clear at the top of Serie A by beating Napoli 2-0 with late goals from Jose Martin Caceres and Paul Pogba to win a hotly-contested match in Turin that saw Antonio Conte's side stretch their unbeaten league run to 46 games.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport