Wednesday, 20 November, 2019

Messi's dead-ball hat-trick puts Barca back on top

Messi y Suárez Messi y Suárez efe
Shannon Reynolds | 10 November, 2019, 18:56

The three points will come as a huge relief to Valverde after last week's banana skin defeat to Levante, as well as Barca's midweek Champions League stalemate against Slavia Prague.

It was also Messi's 52nd career hat-trick, with his first hat-trick dating back to 2007. But the Catalan giants bounced back in style, with Messi leading the way with a superb hat-trick.

Barca's captain coolly converted a penalty to put the champions ahead in the 23rd minute but gave away a foul in a risky area which led to Lucas Olaza levelling for Celta with an outstanding strike from a free kick in the 42nd.

Messi scored another goal apart from scoring the two free-kicks and consequently equalled his rival Cristiano Ronaldo's record for most hat-tricks in La Liga.

Not to be outdone, Messi restored Barcelona's lead with a glorious strike after Fran Beltran fouled Arthur, the club's all-time leading scorer curling a picture-book goal into the top corner from 25 yards.

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Antoine Griezmann, who struggled again to make an impact, saw a shot well saved by Celta keeper Ruben Blanco as Barca, now with Sergio Busquets on the pitch following Nelson Semedo's injury midway through the first half, giving Ernesto Valverde's side much more control of the ball.

"Little by little he has been improving at free-kicks, he used to find them hard".

The pressure is mounting on Valverde to turn things around in Catalonia, but the Barcelona boss insists that he isn't concerned about his job security and that he still has backing from within the club.

"With Leo, anything is possible", Valverde said.

"He dominates the art of free kick taking, and opponents know they can not afford to give away fouls near our area. The other day we had a painful defeat and we had to win today", he said.

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