Messi Scores Hat-Trick as Barcelona Set 35-Match Unbeaten Record
Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as Barcelona took another step towards the La Liga title and set a new Spanish football record of being unbeaten for 35 games after a 5-1 win over nine-man Rayo Vallecano.
Two goals in as many minutes midway through the first-half killed the game as a contest as Ivan Rakitic and Messi netted before Diego Llorente saw a straight red card for a high challenge on Rakitic on Thursday.
Messi completed his hat-trick either side of Manucho’s consolation for Rayo.
Luis Suarez also missed a penalty after Manuel Iturra was also sent-off for the hosts before Arda Turan rounded off the scoring with his first Barcelona goal.
Barcelona now lead Atletico Madrid by eight points with Real Madrid a further four points adrift in third with 11 games remaining.
Rayo were unbeaten in their seven league games themselves.
However, Rayo’s high defensive line was offering plenty of encouragement to the European champions and it seemed only a matter of time before Barcelona took advantage.