Lionel Messi applauded by rival fans after 'extraordinary' hattrick

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Free-kicks are just one aspect of the game that FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has almost perfected, but how does his LaLiga direct set-pieces record compare to that of Cristiano Ronaldo's in Spain?

Lionel Messi and first-place Barcelona head to Real Betis this Sunday in La Liga play.

The second came in first half stoppage time from an assist from Luis Suarez to send Barca into the break two up.

After Messi's final strike, a brilliant chip from the edge of the box which went in off the underside of the bar, the home fans at the Benito Villamarin Stadium rose as one to hail the five-time Ballon d'Or victor.

Suarez scored as Barca triumphed 4-1 in Seville to move 10 points clear at the top but was unable to finish the match after taking a knock to his ankle in the closing stages.

Image PA
Image PA

Earlier, had reported how Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi was branded as an average player in an unusual rant by Canadian football pundit Sid Seixeiro. The ball sailed over Lopez and smacked off the bottom of the crossbar and into the net.

It was an utterly dominant performance from the La Liga leaders which avenged their 4-3 loss at home to Betis in November and took them on to 66 points after 28 games, while Atletico have 56 and third-placed Real Madrid have 54.

"I'm very grateful. It's never happened to me before".

The Argentina worldwide has now scored 27 league goals - more than anyone else in Europe's top five leagues this term. Loren Moron scored Real Betis' only goal. "It was a very good opportunity to increase the distance, we knew the Atletico Madrid result and we could not fail". We have a great advantage but there are many points still to play for.

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