Ernesto Valverde hails Lionel Messi after record-equalling hat-trick

Ernesto Valverde hails Lionel Messi after record-equalling hat-trick

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick, including two sublime free-kicks, as champions Barcelona returned to winning ways against Celta Vigo in La Liga.

Real Madrid had earlier defeated Eibar 4-0 to move first in the table, but this result sees Barcelona reclaim top spot on goal difference.

But anything Olaza could do, Messi could do better, and he did it TWICE with two stunning free-kick strikes either side of half-time.

Moments later Messi struck again, stepping up after Frenkie de Jong was fouled and sending a carbon copy of his first-half free-kick looping beyond the diving Blanco to complete his hat-trick.

As he took home another La Liga ball, this one would have felt special, as he has now equalled Ronaldo's record for the most hat-tricks scored in Spanish top-flight history.

"With Messi anything is possible", he said. When they do, we try to take advantage.

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First half goals from Joselu on 28 minutes and a second four minutes later from Tomas Pina following a howling error from Valladolid keeper Jordi Masip put Alaves on their way before Lucas Perez rounded off the scoring from the penalty spot in the second half with a goal that means he has now scored in each of Alaves' last seven games. "The other day we had a painful defeat and we had to win today", he said.

Garcia replaced Fran Escriba, who was sacked after the 1-0 defeat by Getafe, remains positive despite Celta now having lost a fifth straight game and sitting 18th.

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde is confident that he still has the support and respect of the club as he looks to avoid three consecutive games without a win this weekend.

"We know that there are matches which we haven't won and that always creates instability for morale".

Barcelona later confirmed right-back Nelson Semedo would be out for around five weeks with the calf problem which forced him off after 23 minutes.

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