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 CF, meanwhile, continue to climb the Liga standings following a 2-0 victory against RC Celta de Vigo. Gonzalo Higuaín's cross-shot gave José Mourinho's side the lead before a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty – his ninth league goal this term – doubled their advantage in the second half.
Madrid are now fourth, three points adrift of Málaga CF, who were 2-1 victors against Real Valladolid CF.
|Last updated: 18/04/2013 19:06 CET|
|Venue: La Coruna|
Aritz Aduriz 19, 30
|2||Club Atlético de Madrid||7||19|
|4||Real Madrid CF||8||14|
|5||Real Betis Balompié||7||12|
|9||Real Valladolid CF||8||10|
|11||Rayo Vallecano de Madrid||7||10|
|13||RC Celta de Vigo||8||9|
|14||Real Sociedad de Fútbol||7||9|
|18||RC Deportivo La Coruña||8||6|