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Messi scores 50th hat trick to give Barca 4-2 win at Sevilla

Updated: 2019-02-24 02:31
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Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their second goal, Seville, Spain, February 23, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

BARCELONA — Just when Barcelona was at its worst, Lionel Messi gave one of his best performances of the season.

Messi scored his 50th career hat trick for club and country on Saturday in a 4-2 victory at Sevilla, helping Barcelona to take a big step toward retaining the Spanish league title.

Sevilla went ahead twice, but Messi was there to hit right back each time before he netted a third with five minutes remaining at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

After taking his league-leading tally to 25 goals in as many rounds, Messi added an assist for Luis Suarez to round off the win just before the final whistle.

It was Messi's 44th hat trick for Barcelona, to go with another six for Argentina, according to the club.

"This doesn't mean that the league is ours yet. There is a long way to go, but it was very important to win here because of what it means to win here and to protect the advantage we have over our rivals," Messi said. "The game turned against us but we knew how to pull it out." Barcelona entered the match on a poor run. It had drawn four of its previous five matches and its only goal in three games had been a penalty by Messi. A setback in Seville would have given Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid the chance to tighten the race when they play their games on Sunday.

Instead, Messi almost singlehandedly ensured Barcelona opened up a comfortable 10-point gap over Atletico and a 12-point advantage over Madrid.

Barcelona also rediscovered its scoring form in time for a critical week of back-to-back clashes with Madrid. The fierce rivals meet in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal on Wednesday after a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou, before meeting again in the league next weekend.

Sevilla was twice ahead thanks to goals from Jesus Navas and Gabriel Mercado.

But Messi responded both times to level with superb strikes into the top corner of the net in the 26th and 67th.

He finally put Barcelona in charge when he poached the deflected strike of substitute Carles Alena and nonchalantly chipped it over goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.

"I think we had planned a good game," said Sevilla defender Sergi Gomez. "We had the lead, but we knew that this is Messi and when he wants, he does what he did today." Sevilla fell into fifth place, with Getafe moving up into the Champions League spots after beating Rayo Vallecano 2-1.


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