Lionel Messi fired a hat-trick as Barcelona took another big step towards the LaLiga title with a 3-1 home win against Leganes.
Messi opened the scoring with a fine free-kick, struck his second before half-time and sealed the win in the closing stages with his 39th goal of the season in all competitions after Nabil El Zhar had pulled one back.
Ernesto Valverde’s side moved 12 points clear at the top of the table, extended their unbeaten league run this season to 31 matches and equalled a LaLiga record of 38 games unbeaten – set by Real Sociedad between 1979 and 1980.
Lionel Messi. The irrepressible Argentinian curled home a brilliant free-kick to give Barca a first-half lead, displayed typical top-notch technique before sliding home his second and completed his hat-trick with a neat flick over the goalkeeper in the closing stages for his 39th goal of the season in all competitions.
Messi’s first-half double effectively wrapped the game up before the interval and Barca took their foot off the pedal in the second period. Perhaps with one eye on the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Roma on Tuesday they showed little of the scintillating football they are capable of.
Barcelona have equalled Real Sociedad’s record of 38 league games without defeat, which the Basque club set in 1980, and are seven games away from the first unbeaten LaLiga season in history.
Barca have gone 31 games without defeat this season and were unbeaten in their final seven last season. Real Sociedad finished the 1978/79 campaign unbeaten in their last six and did not lose again until the penultimate match the following season when they were defeated by Real Madrid, who pipped them to the title.
Barcelona: Marc-Andre Ter Stegen 6 (out of 10), Nelson Semedo 6, Gerard Pique 6, Thomas Vermaelen 6, Sergi Roberto 5, Andre Gomes 5, Ivan Rakitic 6, Philippe Countinho 6, Ousmane Dembele 7, Luis Suarez 6, Lionel Messi 9. Substitutes: Andres Iniesta (for Coutinho 81) 6, Jordi Alba (for Sergi Roberto 74) 6, Denis Suarez (for Dembele 88) 6.
Leganes: Ivan Cuellar 7, Joseba Zaldua 5, Unai Bustinza 6, Dimitrios Siovas 6, Raul Garcia 5, Ruben Perez 5, Gabriel 5, Nabil El Zhar 7, Eraso 5, Omar Ramos 5, Nordin Amrabat 5. Substitutes: Claudio Beauvue (for Amrabat 45) 6, Darko Brasanac (for Eraso 60) 5, Miguel Guerrero (for Perez) 5.
Who’s up next?
Roma v Barcelona (Champions League quarter-final, second leg, Apr 10)
Leganes v Celta Vigo (LaLiga, Apr 14)