A third Lionel Messi hat-trick in four games helped Barcelona keep the pressure on La Liga leaders Real Madrid as they recorded a 5-1 victory over local rivals Espanyol on Sunday.

After falling behind to Sergio Garcia’s early strike, Barcelona then took control of the Catalan derby.

Messi’s 21st Liga treble, which took him to within two of Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 23 set on Saturday, a Gerard Pique header and neat finish from Pedro, was enough to see Barca take the spoils and leapfrog Atletico Madrid in second place with 34 points.

Real still lead the table with 36 points after a 3-0 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday.

“There’s no words to describe Messi. He’s given us so much that I genuinely think it’s not possible to say everything that he’s done for us,” said Pique.

“It was a difficult game. We were much improved in the second half. We fixed our mistakes and what we now have to do is continue like this.”

Despite having not won at the Camp Nou since 2009 it was the visitors who started the brighter, creating the game’s first chance after eight minutes, however Jordi Alba was able to clear Garcia’s cross with Lucas Vazquez poised to tap in from close range… see more

source: thelocal