Messi nets sublime hat-trick as Barcelona rout Mallorca
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Lionel Messi celebrated his sixth Ballon D'Or award with a brilliant hat-trick as Barcelona moved back top of La Liga with an emphatic 5-2 victory over Real Mallorca on Saturday.
Real Madrid had climbed three points clear after beating Espanyol, but Ernesto Valverde's side were at their vibrant best as they dispatched visitors Mallorca at the Camp Nou.
Antoine Griezmann dinked home the opening goal after being played through by Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, six-times Ballon d’Or winner Messi twice curled home from outside the area and Luis Suarez netted a brilliant backheel.
Ante Budimir scored with a deflected effort for Mallorca in the first half and doubled his tally by nodding home, but Messi smashed a shot in late on to complete his hat-trick and round off an impressive win for the Catalans.
Messi presented his sixth golden ball award to the supporters before the game, before putting on a show which highlights why he is considered the best player on the planet.
Barcelona sizzled in attack, with Griezmann dinking the ball over Manolo Reina to break the deadlock after seven minutes.
The Catalans constantly threatened and Messi whipped home the second from distance 10 minutes later, curling the ball effortlessly into the top left corner.
Budimir pulled one back for Mallorca with an effort that deflected off Clement Lenglet, but Messi soon stroked home a second.
Suarez scored the pick of the bunch two minutes before halftime, powerfully back-heeling past Reina after being set up brilliantly by Frenkie de Jong.
Budimir headed in a second with Ter Stegen out of position but Messi wrapped up the win by rifling home his third, a record 35th La Liga hat-trick.
It was Messi’s 12th goal of the season, making him the division’s top scorer, completing an excellent week for the forward after his success at the gala in Paris on Monday.
(Reporting by Rik Sharma, editing by Ed Osmond)