Barcelona Win With Messi’s Hat-trick, Suarez’s Backheel Goal

It was showtime for Barcelona at Camp Nou Stadium.

Lionel Messi had a hat trick. Luis Suárez scored with a superb backheel goal. There was even an assist by goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen to Antoine Griezmann's first goal in six Spanish league matches.

With one of its best performances of the season, Barcelona cruised to a 5-2 win over promoted Mallorca on Saturday, keeping pace with Real Madrid and regaining the league lead.

Madrid had beaten Espanyol 2-0 earlier Saturday to provisionally move to the top, but Barcelona's win left the teams tied on points and the Catalan club ahead on goal difference.

Spain Soccer La LigaImage ID : 19341767879230Barcelona’s Antoine Griezmann, foreground, celebrates with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, right, after scoring the opening goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match.

The highlight of Barcelona's win was Suárez's 43rd-minute backheel goal, which came after a smart exchange of passes between Frenkie de Jong and Sergi Roberto. De Jong made the final pass to Suárez who was near the corner of the six-meter (yard) box, and the Uruguay striker hit the ball with the back of his right foot, pressing it down and making it bounce off the ground over goalkeeper Manolo Reina.

"I knew I had a difficult angle, my only option was to backheel the ball firmly so it would bounce and make it harder for the goalkeeper," Suárez said. "It wouldn't be impossible for the ball to go through if it didn't bounce. Luckily it worked and it was a beautiful goal."

Barcelona's dominant performance had started with Griezmann's seventh-minute goal off a long pass by Ter Stegen, who quickly took a goal kick to set up the Frenchman's run from behind the midfield line. Griezmann entered the area and niftly tapped the ball over Reina.

It was the second assist for Ter Stegen this season. He had also set up Suárez's goal against Getafe in September.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi shows the supporters his sixth Golden Ball for the best player of the year that he was awarded earlier in the week, before a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Mallorca at Camp Nou stadium.

Messi was at his best, scoring in the 17th with a superb curling left-footed shot into the top corner and then with another well-placed strike from outside the area in the 41st. He completed his record 35th league hat trick from inside the area in the 83rd after Suárez's pass.

The goal also allowed Messi to take the league's scoring lead with 12 goals, one more than Real Madrid's Karim Benzema.

Before the match, Messi was presented with the Ballon d'Or award which he won for best player of the year on Monday. Messi's three young sons carried the trophy out to him as the Camp Nou crowd chanted his name.

Ante Budimir scored Mallorca's goals in the 35th and 64th minutes.

Barcelona has won nine of its last 10 league matches, including four in a row. It has lost only once in its last 14 games in all competitions.

It was the seventh consecutive away loss for Mallorca, which stayed in 17th place, one point from the relegation zone.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, with his children, poses with his sixth Golden Ball for the best player of the year that he was awarded earlier in the week, before a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Mallorca at Camp Nou stadium.

Madrid Stays Close

Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema scored a goal in each half to give Madrid its win over second-to-last-place Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

The result extended Madrid's unbeaten run in all competitions to nine matches. It was the team's fourth straight league win, and the 14th in the last 15 games against Espanyol across all competitions.

Varane opened the scoring with a low left-foot shot from inside the area in the 37th after a pass by Benzema, who sealed the victory with a shot from close range in the 79th after being set up by midfielder Federico Valverde.

Madrid played the final minutes with 10 men as left-back Ferland Mendy was sent off with a second yellow card for a hard foul in the 83rd.

Madrid played without several regular starters because of injuries, including Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, James Rodríguez and Marcelo.

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