WATCH: Lionel Messi scores 51st hat-trick to close in on yet another landmark for Barcelona to fuel Cristiano Ronaldo comparison

Barcelona star Lionel Messi
Barcelona star Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi struck an incredible 51st career hat-trick to help Barcelona go ten points clear and also close in on yet another landmark.

Lionel Messi scored his 51st career hat-trick as Barcelona brushed aside Real Betis 4-1 to move 10 points clear at the top of La Liga.

Betis were the last team to defeat Barca in the league, winning 4-3 at the Nou Camp back in November, but the champions-elect exacted clinical revenge at the Benito Villamarin Stadium.

Messi opened the scoring with a brilliant 25-yard free-kick in the 18th minute and doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time after latching onto Luis Suarez's clever back-heel.

Suarez then added a fine individual third and, while Betis deservedly pulled a goal back through Loren, the night belonged to Barca and Messi, with the Argentinian completing another brilliant treble with a pinpoint late chip.

Victory sees Barca put further daylight between themselves and second-placed Atletico Madrid, who lost on Saturday, and keeps the Catalan giants firmly on course for the treble.

Messi opens the scoring in style

Messi doubles up

Messi saves his best till last

Oh, and Luis Suarez scored a belter as well...


La Liga round-up

Earlier on Sunday, Sevilla won their first match after sacking coach Pablo Machin as Wissam Ben Yedder's 53rd-minute penalty earned them a 1-0 victory at Espanyol.

Both teams finished the match with 10 players as Sevilla goalkeeper Juan Soriano and Espanyol midfielder Sergi Darder saw red in stoppage time.

Sevilla's win leaves them sixth in LaLiga, three points behind fourth-placed Getafe who played out a goalless draw with Valencia on Sunday.

Valencia had an effort by Goncalo Guedes ruled out at the start of the second half by VAR as they remain seventh, now three points behind Sevilla.

At the other end of the table Villarreal and Real Valladolid boosted their hopes of avoiding the drop with victories.

Villarreal, who beat Levante last time out, defeated second-bottom Rayo Vallecano 3-1 to move four points clear of the drop zone.

Rayo took a 20th-minute lead through Mario Suarez but Karl Toko Ekambi's second-half brace and a late Gerard Moreno strike earned the Yellow Submarine victory.

Valladolid are also four points above the bottom three after beating Eibar 2-1 in dramatic fashion.

Fabian Orellana's 54th-minute goal looked certain to consign Valladolid to a fifth successive defeat but stoppage-time goals from Daniele Verde (penalty) and Sergi Guardiola snatched victory for the visitors.

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