Record-breaking Messi scores 3 to help Barcelona go top
Lionel Messi is back to upstaging Cristiano Ronaldo again.
Messi broke Ronaldo’s record for hat tricks in the Spanish league with his 24th treble — and 32nd in all competitions — in Barcelona’s 6-1 thrashing of Rayo Vallecano on Sunday. That also meant Barcelona overtook Ronaldo’s Real Madrid at the top of the league by one point, and put him level with his rival on 30 goals for the season in the competition — having trailed 25-13 in the scoring race through 15 rounds.
In England, Liverpool was held scoreless in a draw with second-tier Blackburn in the FA Cup quarterfinals as the Premier League’s in-form team lost its attacking sparkle. In Italy, Roma’s hopes of catching league leader Juventus took a blow when it drew 0-0 at Chievo Veroina.
Here are some things to know about Sunday’s games:
Lionel Messi second-half hat trick in the win over Rayo Vallecano made sure Barcelona capitalized on Madrid’s latest slip — a 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday — to move one point ahead at the top of the table. The fierce rivals are set to meet in the Catalan capital in two weeks.
Luis Suarez scored twice and Gerard Pique got the other goal.
“Suarez plays well with Messi and is giving us more and more,” Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said. “It’s clear they have a special connection.”
Messi’s treble in a 13-minute span took his season tally overall to 41 goals in 38 games in all competitions, as he reached the 40-goal mark for a sixth consecutive season.
While Barcelona rose past Madrid, Atletico Madrid’s title defense was dented after it conceded a late goal in a testy 1-1 draw at home with Valencia.
Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi headed in a cross that goalkeeper Miguel Moya misjudged in the 78th. Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion scored for Atletico in the 33rd.
Roma was held 0-0 at Chievo Verona in a Serie A match which was marred by a gruesome injury to youngster Federico Mattiello.
Roma’s eighth draw in nine league matches left it eight points behind Juventus, which hosts Sassuolo on Monday.
The 19-year-old Mattiello, who is on loan at Chievo from Juventus, was stretchered off in tears after breaking his leg in a clash with Radja Nainggolan early on.
Video images from the game showed the bottom half of the midfielder’s right leg bending and initial reports said he broke both his tibia and fibula.
Napoli, meanwhile, remained four points behind after squandering a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to Inter Milan.
Marek Hamsik headed in Henrique’s cross six minutes after the interval before Gonzalo Higuain doubled Napoli’s advantage from 25 yards shortly after the hour mark.
But Rodrigo Palacio pulled one back and Inter leveled three minutes from with a penalty from Mauro Icardi.
Elsewhere, crisis-hit Parma played again after postponing two matches. The financially-stricken club, which drew 0-0 at home to Atalanta, has been sold twice this season and wages have gone unpaid for months.
Alexandre Lacazette struck twice and rising star Nabil Fekir added two expert finishes as Lyon won 5-1 at Montpellier to reclaim top spot from Paris Saint-Germain in the closely-contested French title race.
After Lucas Barrios gave Montpellier the lead, Lyon scored twice in a 10-minute spell through Lacazette’s penalty and a fine goal from Fekir, whose second goal was even better.
Former France midfielder Yoann Gourcuff was involved in the first three goals, but Fekir stole the limelight.
Midfielder Corentin Tolisso made it 4-1 before Lacazette volleyed in his 23rd goal of the season, with both goals in injury time. All of Lyon’s scorers came through the club’s youth academy.
Fifth-place Saint-Etienne continued its push for a European spot after beating struggling Lorient 2-0 at home, while Lille’s 1-0 win at Guingamp moved it up to eighth spot.
Blackburn forced a replay against Liverpool after a 0-0 draw in the FA Cup quarterfinals as the Premier League team struggled to break the visitors down.
Blackburn dominated parts of the first half after an eight-minute delay early in the game following an injury to Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel in an aerial challenge. Skrtel was wearing a neck brace as he was carried off on a stretcher but Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said the Slovakia center back was “fine.”
Liverpool pressed in the closing stages, with Jordan Henderson going close, but didn’t play the free-flowing football that has helped the team remain unbeaten in the league since mid-December.
Cologne took advantage of poor defending by Eintracht Frankfurt to win their Bundesliga match 4-2.
Cologne finished with 10 men but had earlier made sure of its second home win of the season.
Eintracht central defender Carlos Zambrano appeared to be fouled on Cologne’s first goal, as the ball fell kindly to Deyverson, who scored his first league goal by lobbing goalkeeper Kevin Trapp in the first half.
Alexander Meier equalized for Eintracht, but Marcel Riss, Yuya Osako and Athony Ujah added further goals for Cologne.
Son Heung-min scored twice to help Bayer Leverkusen win 3-0 in Paderborn, which sank to 16th after its fourth straight home defeat.