Lionel Messi hit his third hat-trick of the season as FC Barcelona led a clean sweep of victories for Spain's four UEFA Champions League challengers on Saturday.
The Argentinian international followed an opening goal from the penalty spot with two side-footed finishes to complete a first-half hat-trick against RCD Mallorca at Camp Nou. A first senior goal for Isaac Cuenca (50) and Dani Alves's fierce shot in added time completed the European champions' fourth 5-0 victory of the campaign.
"The team played well and we managed to make the game more or less safe in the first half," said Messi. "People said I was going through some kind of crisis just because I hadn't scored in my three previous games but the most important thing isn't me, it's that the team is winning."
Barcelona are a point ahead of UD Levante, in action at CA Osasuna on Sunday, and one behind Real Madrid CF. José Mourinho's side scored early through Gonzalo Higuaín (9) away to Real Sociedad de Fútbol but endured a nervous second half as the hosts sought an equaliser.
Elsewhere, Sofiane Feghouli scored two of Valencia CF's goals as they defeated Getafe CF 3-1, while Bruno Soriano and Borja Valero struck unanswered goals in Villarreal CF's victory against Rayo Vallecano de Madrid.
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|Last updated: 22/03/2012 16:47 CET|
|Real Sociedad||0-1||Real Madrid|
|Venue: San Sebastian|
Diego Castro 23
|1||Real Madrid CF||10||25|
|9||Rayo Vallecano de Madrid||10||12|
|10||Real Betis Balompié||9||12|
|12||Club Atlético de Madrid||9||10|
|16||Real Sociedad de Fútbol||10||8|
|18||Real Sporting de Gijón||9||7|
|19||Real Racing Club||9||5|