Barcelona star Messi nets hat-trick in Malaga rout

Barcelona star Lionel Messi struck a hat-trick as they thrashed Malaga 4-1.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi struck a hat-trick as they thrashed Malaga 4-1.

Messi scored his fifth hat-trick of the season as Barcelona posted a comfortable 4-1 victory at Malaga to move, temporarily at least, within two points of Primera Division leaders Real Madrid.

Victor Valdes made three fine saves to prevent Isco giving the hosts the lead early on, but Barca took control just after the half-hour mark as Messi gave Willy Caballero no chance with a powerful header from Adriano's cross.

And the visitors made sure of the three points with two quickfire goals early in the second half as Alexis Sanchez fired home from close range before Messi got his second of the day with a wonderful run and finish.

The Argentinian completed his treble on 81 minutes as he again left the Malaga defence in his wake before slipping the ball past Caballero from a narrow angle, but Salomon Rondon did get a consolation for the hosts five minutes later with a neat finish after Valdes had parried Recio's effort.

Barca coach Pep Guardiola highlighted Valdes' influence afterwards: “If Victor hadn’t cleared the corner or saved a goal-scoring chance on two occasions, I don’t know what would have happened.”

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