Lionel Messi's sensational form continued with a second consecutive Liga hat-trick as FC Barcelona rejoined leaders Real Madrid CF at the top following a 4-2 win at Real Zaragoza.
Doubtful for the trip with a tooth abscess, Messi followed up his treble against Valencia CF last weekend with yet another three-goal haul, taking his tally to 25 strikes in 24 league outings and ten goals in his last four matches in all competitions. Having registered twice as Barcelona defeated VfB Stuttgart 4-0 to claim a UEFA Champions League last-eight spot on Wednesday, the 22-year-old headed the Azulgrana in front after five minutes.
The Argentina forward's second was a thrilling solo effort in the 66th minute, and he rounded off another memorable performance with a left-footed shot 12 minutes later. Substitute Adrián Colunga gave the hosts hope with a late double, only for Zlatan Ibrahimović to convert from the spot in added time. Josep Guardiola's charges trail frontrunners Madrid on goal difference.
Valencia strengthened their hold on a UEFA Champions League berth thanks to a match-winning performance from David Silva at home against UD Almería. The midfielder set up Spanish international team-mate Juan Mata (63) before securing victory for the UEFA Europa League quarter-finalists seven minutes later, finding the net while grounded following a tackle.
The win took Valencia four points ahead of fourth-placed RCD Mallorca, who made it 12 victories from 13 home fixtures by recording a 4-1 success against the Blanquinegros' last-eight opponents in Europe, Club Atlético de Madrid. Raúl García was dismissed for the visitors ten minutes after the break with the Islanders leading 2-1. Elsewhere, substitute Nabil Baha struck twice as Málaga CF triumphed 2-0 over Villarreal CF and 16th-placed Real Racing Club moved seven points clear of the relegation zone by prevailing 3-1 at CA Osasuna.
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|Last updated: 03/07/2011 04:16 CET|
Marco Ruben 58
Rubén Suárez 90
|Venue: La Coruna|
Rondón 8, 26
De Guzman 67
|Venue: Palma de Mallorca|