MADRID: Lionel Messi hit a hat-trick as Barcelona made history by winning a record 16th successive Spanish League match to beat the previous best of Alfredo Di Stefano’s 1960-1961 Real Madrid.
Messi scored all the goals in the 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou. Argentine Messi waltzed through the Atletico defence to give Barcelona the lead in the 17th minute and, after wasting a further chance, he pounced again in the 28th minute.
Atletico came out of their shell at the start of the second half but it was Barcelona who had the cutting edge with Messi scoring again from close range 11 minutes from time.
“We wouldn’t be were we are if it wasn’t for Messi in our team,” said Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. “Without him we wouldn’t have won so comfortably. Real Madrid won 15 because they had Di Stefano. We have now won 16 because we have Messi,” added the coach.
Meanwhile, Atletico coach Quique Sanchez Flores was also full of praise for Messi.
“He is the best player I have seen - the Di Stefano of the 21st century. It was an amazing performance from Barcelona, they are the number one side and have the capacity to hypnotise the opposition, “said Flores.
In other matches, a fine Valmiro Valdo finish gave Levante a shock 1-0 win over Villarreal while Athletic Bilbao leapfrogged Espanyol into fifth place with a commanding 3-0 victory over 10-man Sporting Gijon. The Basque side took full advantage of Espanyol’s 3-2 defeat to Almeria.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2011.
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