Lionel Messi once again responded to speculation about his Barcelona future with a sensational performance, scoring a hat-trick as the Catalans trounced Deportivo La Coruna 4-0.
The Argentinian sounded the alarm bells last week by declaring at the Fifa Ballon d’Or ceremony that he did not know where he would be next year, but gave Barca a two-goal advantage at the break at Riazor and then completed his treble in the second half.
A late own goal by defender Sidnei compounded struggling Depor’s misery in Barca’s most convincing performance of the season.
“Messi has been at an exceptional level all season,” gushed Barca manager Luis Enrique. “He has not let up at any moment. He is playing at the level of a world-class star.”
Karim Benzema’s role in Real Madrid’s first goal at Getafe was hailed as “extraordinary” and “spectacular” by coach Carlo Ancelotti, who also described it as the decisive contribution of the match, as Real won 3-0 at Getafe yesterday.
The game was still goalless as it passed the hour when Benzema produced a moment of magic to help break the deadlock, with the France international brilliantly skipping past two defenders on the goal line before laying the ball back to Cristiano Ronaldo to slot into a gaping net.
Madrid added further goals from Gareth Bale and Ronaldo to complete a 3-0 win which ensures they finish the first half of the Primera Division season top of La Liga.
“All the team has played well, but it’s clear that the key to the game was the play by Benzema, which was extraordinary,” said Ancelotti.
Atletico climbed back into third thanks to a 2-0 win at home to Granada with a Mario Mandzukic penalty and a Raul Garcia header. Sevilla beat Malaga 2-0 last night late game with goals from Carlos Bacca and Denis Suarez.
In Italy, Carlos Tevez scored twice as Juventus moved five points clear at the top of Serie A with a 4-0 win over Hellas Verona last night.
Paul Pogba and Roberto Pereyra got Juve’s other goals.
Gonzalo Higuain’s first-half goal gave Napoli a 1-0 victory over Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico to secure his side’s second victory in three league matches. Victory for Rafael Benitez’s side saw them leapfrog their opponents into third in Serie A. Roma drew 1-1 with Palermo on Saturday.
In France, PSG, Lyon and Marseille all won at the weekend.