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July 26, 2014
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Unstoppable Messi nets hat-trick in pulsating Clásico victory

Barcelona's Argentine star Lionel Messi came up with a marvellous hat-trick as Barcelona came from behind twice to lead 4-3 against Clásico rivals Real Madrid.  The Rosario native's haul included two strikes from the penalty spot, in a match crucial for the Blaugrana's Liga hopes.

Messi had previously turned provider in the star-studded clash, laying on to Andrés Iniesta for the midfielder to open the scoring after just six minutes before Karim Benzema smashed back to put the hosts ahead 2-1.

The Spain international capped a wonderful flowing move by the Liga champions with a drilled shot high into the net. It was Messi, who played behind the Madrid lines with a perfectly-weighted low pass, who provided the killer ball and allowed Gerardo Martino's men to take the initiative.

La Pulga later could have doubled the advantage on 15 minutes, but clean through against Diego López the Rosario native uncharacteristically fluffed his shot to let Madrid off the hook.

After that shaky start Madrid started to impose themselves, and turned the scoreline around before half-time. Ángel Di Maria's cross from the left was headed home powerfully by Karim Benzema, with goalkeeper Victor Valdes unable to keep the effort out.

Just minutes later Benzema was once more on target, this time meeting Di Maria's cross with a powerful volley that rattled the Barcelona net and left them chasing the game. But minutes before half time, a trademark low shot from Messi levelled things up at 2-2 in a pulsating game of football.

There were even more goals to come. A debatable Madrid penalty had Barca players seething, but there was no doubt about the kick itself as Cristiano Ronaldo finished with precision. Messi, however, was shortly given his own chance to strike from 12 yards as Sergio Ramos was sent off, and duly obliged to make it 3-3.

And when Iniesta was downed in the penalty area with just minutes remaining, the Argentina captain stepped up and netted his third of the match to cap a seven-goal thriller.

Barcelona's victory cuts Madrid's lead at the top of the Primera División to just one point, as Gerardo Martino's men move on to 69 for the season. The Merengue share first place with Átletico Madrid, who downed Real Betis 2-0 to move level with their city rivals.
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Tags:  Barcelona  Madrid  Clasico  Messi  Iniesta.  





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