Lionel Messi is mobbed by his Barcelona teammates after scoring an amazing opening goal against Sevilla, his first of three in the 4-2 win. (Reuters/Marcelo del Pozo)
We’ve gotten used to Lionel Messi demonstrating otherworldly feats of ability on a weekly basis over the last dozen years, but every now and then the world’s best player — and perhaps the GOAT — still pulls off a performance capable of making even the most jaded fan’s jaw drop to the floor.
Such was the case on Saturday, when Messi’s 50th career hat trick gave La Liga-leading Barcelona a crucial 4-2, comeback win away to Sevilla. Messi scored the visitors’ first three goals and assisted on the fourth by Luis Suarez in stoppage time.
The best of the lot was his first strike. With Barcelona training 1-0, the little Argentine swung his left foot at a driven, waist-high cross from Ivan Rakitic, connecting with the ball perfectly and blasting his 22nd league goal of the season past keeper Tomas Vaclik:
Unfortunately for the visitors, Sevilla responded before the half was over through right back Gabriel Mercado, Messi’s teammate with Argentina’s national squad, who fired the hosts back in front three minutes before the break.
But Messi pulled his side level again in the second half with another spectacular tally. The sequence began with an errant Vaclik clearance that was intercepted by Rakitic. The Croatian fed substitute Ousmane Dembele on the wing, and Dembele found Messi lurking in space just outside the box. The 31-year-old did the rest, settling the ball quickly with one deft touch before firing past a helpless Vaclik:
After that, the 40,000 spectators inside Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium might have guessed how the match would end. Indeed, the home supporters watched in horror as Messi completed his hat trick and gave Barca its first lead of the contest with five minutes to play, this time off a cruel deflection off of defender Simon Kaer that left Messi with a simple finish, at least compared to his first superhuman strikes:
The goals were Messi’s 34th, 35th and 36th in 35 career games against Sevilla, the La Liga team Messi has tortured the most since his 2004 debut. With the victory, Barcelona sits 10 points above second place Atletico Madrid and 12 clear of chief rival Real Madrid, at least for now. The Spanish capital’s twin powerhouses are both in action on Sunday, with Atleti hosting Leganes and Real traveling to Levante.
Meantime, Barcelona will now turn its attention to the second leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal on Wednesday against Real at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. The teams tied the opener 1-1 at Barca’s Nou Camp earlier this month.
Doug McIntyre covers soccer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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