Lionel Messi handed his strike-partner Luis Suárez a hat-trick on a plate with an audaciously taken penalty as Barcelona beat Celta Vigo 6-1 in La Liga on Sunday.
The Argentina superstar rolled his 81st-minute spot-kick into Suárez’s path to allow him to complete his treble as the hosts at Camp Nou recovered from a low-key start to win in style and maintain top place. Had Messi scored the penalty himself, it would have been his 300th La Liga goal.
Barça were far from their fluent best before the break but took a 20th-minute lead when Messi, having gone close with an earlier attempt, curled a superb free-kick over the wall and beyond keeper Sergio Álvarez’s despairing dive.
But the lead was extinguished six minutes before the break when, having been tripped by Jordi Alba, the Celta striker John Guidetti scored the resulting penalty despite goalkeeper Claudio Bravo going the right way.
Suárez restored the home side’s lead when he played a delicious 59th-minute one-two with Messi and nonchalantly dispatched the return pass, and it was 3-1 15 minutes from time when he stabbed Neymar’s shot over the line after Messi and the Brazilian had torn the visitors apart.
The Uruguay striker completed his hat-trick in outrageous fashion and further goals from substitute Ivan Rakitic and Neymar completed the rout.