Messi bags hat-trick but Madrid battle to top spot
It had to happen sooner or later.
La Liga minnows Levante finally lost their first game of the season yesterday, going down 2-0 at Osasuna and so ending their run of seven successive league wins and surrendering their position at the top of the table to Real Madrid, who battled to a 1-0 victory at Real Sociedad on Saturday thanks to Gonzalo Higuain's goal.
Lionel Messi responded to his uncharacteristic three-game drought in the league by scoring an 18-minute hat-trick in the first-half as Barcelona thrashed Mallorca 5-0 at the Nou Camp.
The newest of Barca's La Masia graduates, 20-year-old winger Isaac Cuenca, also scored in the rout. It was his first goal for the club on his second start.
Villarreal, who entertain Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday, ended a run of five straight league defeats with a 2-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano.
In Italy, Juventus maintained their two-point lead at the top of Serie A by defeating Internazionale 2-1 at San Siro.
Inter have now only won once in their last five league games.
AC Milan are second after Zlatan Ibrahimovic's double secured a hard-fought 3-2 win at Roma. The Rossoneri have won their last four league games.
In Germany, Bayern Munich lead the Bundesliga by four points after a 4-0 win over FC Nurnberg. It was yet another clean sheet for goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, his ninth in the league this season.
Champions Borussia Dortmund were held to a 1-1 draw at Stuttgart and slipped to third.
Meanwhile, Marseille will go into their vital Champions League tie at Arsenal buoyed by a 3-2 success at Dijon, where Alou Diarra scored the winner with eight minutes remaining after the visitors had squandered a two-goal cushion.
Belgian champions Genk warmed up for Chelsea with an entertaining 5-4 win away at Club Brugge.