Lionel Messi shone his magic once again as he leads Barcelona in demolishing third place Valencia 5-1 at Camp Nou by scoring four goals and providing an important contribution for Barca’s fifth scored by Xavi Hernandez.
The Argentinian’s quart-trick also improved his goal scoring tally into 27 already this season in the league, one behind current top scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo, staging the set for a potential El Pichichi battle for the two top players by the end of competition.
Eying to reduce their gap with Madrid at the top of La Liga, Barcelona were actually stunned in the first 10 minutes as Valencia managed to steal a goal early in the half through Pablo Piatti. The Argentinian striker sneak into the Catalan side’s defense and easily converted Sofiane Feghouli’s cross from right wing, providing a temporarily shock for the home team.
However, Barca players didn’t go all gloomy after conceding as they improved their performance and step on the gas, slowly controlling the midfield which is obviously missing the presence of Banega and Canales who both did well in both team’s first meeting at Mestalla. The home team finally got their equalizing goal but it took a defensive error for Messi to start his quart-trick party as a missed clearance by Adil Rami resulted on the Argentinian superstar getting free in the area before easily beating Diego Alves.
Five minutes after getting their equalizer, Barcelona took the lead instead after another horror defending by Valencia players as Eric Abidal escaped the attention on the left flank and provide a cross for Messi, who was ridiculously running unmarked in the penalty area. The three times World Best Player Awards winner got his first attempt saved by Alves but the rebound was not going to be missed by him.
Messi continue his dominating performance in the second half as he bagged two more goals, one arrived from latching on into Christian Tello’s effort that was previously blocked inside the area. Meanwhile, the fourth came around five minutes from the final whistle as he broke through the offside trap before chipping the ball passed Alves, who was simply left stranded without much covering from his back line.
With Valencia players already losing their spirit after conceding the third goal, Barcelona added more woes for Alves on the Mestalla’s outfit goal as substitute Xavi found the net with Messi acting more as a provided this time. Despite the Argentinian effort in releasing the Spaniard, it was another messed up defending that allowed Xavi to get his name into the score sheet as the midfielder easily placed his shot into the net.
photo credit: prettyfriendship