Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Messi hat-trick helps Barca equal record




Messi hat-trick helps Barca equal record

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi celebrates his third goal against Leganes at the Camp Nou on Saturday. AFP
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi celebrates his third goal against Leganes at the Camp Nou on Saturday. AFP

Messi hat-trick helps Barca equal record

Barcelona equalled the record longest unbeaten run in La Liga history as a Lionel Messi hat-trick inspired the runaway leaders to a 3-1 win over Leganes on Saturday to make it 38 league games unbeaten.

The Catalan giants will look to break the record that Real Sociedad set in 1979-80 when they host Valencia next weekend, with Ernesto Valverde’s side now just seven matches from becoming the first La Liga side to go through a campaign without tasting defeat.

Messi was the star of the show at the Camp Nou with a magnificent treble, as Barca stretched their lead at the
top to 12 points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid’s derby against Real Madrid on Sunday.

“This unbeaten record has not only been achieved this season, but also last year under [former coach] Luis Enrique,” said Barca coach Valverde.

“It’s a shared record, because it crossed over between seasons. It has been quite difficult, because of the fact it’s an old record that hasn’t been broken for a long time.”

Valverde named a strong side despite having a Champions League quarterfinal, second leg on Tuesday at Roma, with Messi, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho all starting.

Suarez passed up two good early chances to put Barca ahead, prodding wide and then seeing visiting goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar deny him with an excellent save.

But the hosts moved in front in the 27th minute through a trademark Messi free-kick.

The Argentinian stepped up and curled the ball over the ball and into the bottom corner from 25 yards out to score his 27th league goal of the season.

It didn’t take the 30-year-old long to double his tally for the day, latching onto Coutinho’s through ball and firing low into the corner.

Barcelona eased off in the second half, perhaps with the midweek clash at the Stadio Olimpico on their minds, and Leganes hit back midway through the second half.

Former Liverpool winger Nabil El Zhar cut inside and fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the box despite slipping as he shot.

But the home side finished off the match as a contest late on with Messi completing his third hat-trick of the season in style.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner chested down Ousmane Dembele’s pass and dinked the ball over Cuellar with consummate ease.

Barca will now turn their attentions to avoiding a disaster in Italy as they defend a 4-1 first-leg lead, still bidding to complete the treble with a Copa del Rey final against Sevilla to come in a fortnight’s time.

Earlier on Saturday, Sevilla’s hopes of qualifying for Europe next season took a hit with a 4-0 thumping at Celta Vigo.

Vincenzo Montella’s side were taken apart by former striker Iago Aspas’s hat-trick, as the ex-Liverpool man strengthened his claim for a place in Spain’s World Cup squad.

Sevilla face Bayern Munich on Wednesday’s at the Allianz Arena needing to overturn a 2-1 deficit to reach the Champions League semifinals.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from