Messi scores his 23rd La Liga Hat-trick….

Lionel Messi and Marc Bartra

Lionel Messi scored his 23rd hat-trick on his 300th La Liga appearance for Barcelona who swept past Levante.

The result means Barca are once again only a point behind leaders Real Madrid, who beat Deportivo La Coruna 2-0 on Saturday. Neymar scored the opener with an effort that spun in off his foot, before Messi drilled in, tapped home his second and then made it 4-0 from the spot. Luis Suarez scored the goal of the game when he acrobatically volleyed in. It was a stunning finish by the substitute that mirrored the excellent performance by Barca, who have now won their last 11 games in all competitions – equalling the streak in 2008-09 under then coach Pep Guardiola. Barca opened the scoring in rather fortunate circumstances when Neymar’s strike, from Messi’s delivery, spun up in the air before dropping just over the line. Less bizarre was the Barcelona’s second. Messi was again alert to what was going on behind him, latching on to Marc Bartra’s pass before firing in. And it was 3-0 14 minutes after the break, when the Argentine forward tapped in after Pedro brilliantly diverted Sergio Busquets’s chipped ball into his path. The 27-year-old then completed his hat-trick with 26th league goal of the season – a penalty after Ivan Lopez had bundled over Neymar. The Brazilian was later taken off and replaced by £75m summer signing Suarez. The Uruguay forward, who had only scored four times this season, marked his cameo appearance with on outstanding goal, converting Adriano’s cross from the left with a scissor-kick volley.

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