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Messi magic as Barça break stubborn Deportivo

Lionel Messi hit his 21st FC Barcelona hat-trick as Tito Villanova’s charges overcame a determined RC Deportivo La Coruña 5-4 in a stunning match at the Riazor.

The 18th-placed hosts had won just once before this contest. Following strikes by Jordi Alba, Christian Tello and Lionel Messi – the latter a rocket from a Cesc Fábregas back-heel – inside the opening 18 minutes, Depor’s prospects did not look bright.

However, Pizzi pulled a goal back from the penalty spot and Álex Bergantiños added another, before Messi doubled his tally seemingly to quell Barcelona fears heading into the interval. Pizzi, though, curled in a sumptuous free-kick for 4-3 moments after the restart, an act that was quickly followed by a second yellow card and a dismissal for Javier Mascherano.

But Deportivo could not make their numerical advantage count, and Messi completed his hat-trick with a wonderful strike. Although an Alba own goal provided a tense climax, Barça weathered the storm to deny Depor a point.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, continue to climb the Liga standings following a 2-0 victory against Celta Vigo. Gonzalo Higuaín’s cross-shot gave José Mourinho’s side the lead before a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty, his ninth league goal this season, doubled their advantage in the second half.

Madrid are now fourth, three points adrift of Málaga, who were 2-1 victors against Real Valladolid.