Messi inspired the Primera Division leaders to a 3-0 victory over Racing Santander on Saturday. But Gerard Pique suffered a hamstring strain which will keep him out for around two weeks.
Messi is in devastating form and his classy finish following a slick one-two with Andres Iniesta moved him clear in second on the Catalan club’s list of all-time top goalscorers, in official competitions behind Cesar Rodriguez, who scored 235.
Messi rounded off the scoring after a rare headed goal by Xavi with a simple finish after Iniesta had produced an outrageous piece of skill and shot against a post.
Iniesta bemoaned the loss of defender Pique to injury.
“It is bad luck for Pique and a loss for the team. The bad thing is that he has had two or three injuries one after the other and it seems he has been out for 20 games. We are confident that other players will do well and that Pique will recover as soon as possible,” said Iniesta.
Real Madrid remain a point behind their bitter rivals as Gonzalo Higuain’s third hat-trick in his last four matches steered them to a 4-1 win over Real Betis.
Kaka scored Real’s second just before the hour mark, with Jorge Molina briefly threatening to bring Betis back into it before Higuain struck twice more to seal the win.
Real Mallorca enjoyed a dramatic start to life under new coach Joaquin Caparros after snatching a draw against Valencia with a last-minute penalty. Valencia looked certain to claim all three points after taking the lead through Adil Rami in the 38th minute.
But the home side were rewarded for their persistence in the dying moments when Mehmet Topal was penalised for handball and striker Tomer Hemed scored the penalty.
Granada moved above Racing into 18th spot with a goalless draw at home to Atletico Madrid, while Getafe and Villarreal continued their poor starts as they played out a dire 0-0 draw, a result which left both sides still with just one league win apiece to their name.
Yesterday two goals from Tottenham’s Helder Postiga saw Real Zaragoza beat Real Sociedad 2-0 while Romaric gave Espanyol a 1-0 win at Rayo Vallecano. Levante thumped Malaga 3-0 last night.