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FC Barcelona have put the setbacks against Levante and Slavia Prague well behind them with a tremendously solid display against a Celta side that was plucky early on but were soon put to the sword by three goals from set pieces – and all converted superbly by the best man in the world at doing that particular job.
Yet another victory was a Leo Messi show. One penalty and two free kicks as good as put this game to bed and despite Real Madrid beating Eibar earlier in the day, it will be Barça who stay top of the Liga table.
Indeed, Celta’s first few minutes under their new manager Oscar García belied their lowly position in the table. Was the former Barça man already making an impact?
But their sprightly start was interrupted after 23 minutes when Joseph Aidoo handled a cross from Junior Firpo, starting at left-back today, and Messi sent the keeper the wrong way with the ensuing spot kick.
The goal got Barça’s game back, but just as seemed like business as usual at Camp Nou, Celta stunned the stadium with an equaliser.
Everyone assumed Iago Aspas was about to take the free kick, but it was Lucas Olaza who struck the kind of finish that even Messi would be proud of.
And to drive home that point, the GOAT himself teed an almost identical free at the other end of the pitch just an instant later. It was a carbon copy of the goal Olaza had just scored and Barça were back in command. 2-1-
That goal in itself was out of this world. But what Messi does is from another galaxy. And we were about to be reminded why.
A free kick in a similar position to the last. He’d done it once and even before he’d kicked it there was an air of inevitability that he was about to repeat the trick.
And he did. Cool, calm composed. Pop! He tucked it away in the same place as the last, precisely where Ruben Blanco had no chance of touching it.
They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Leo Messi proved that theory well and truly wrong. Absolute class.
The first three goals had come from familiar sources. The fourth and final one less so.
Substitute Ousmane Dembéle made the run, and his hot rebounded straight into the path of the man who had come on for the injured Nelson Semedo. Yes, a rare goal for Sergio Busquets ended a wonderful evening for Barça, who will be going into the international break as Liga leaders!
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Barcelona have now scored at least once in 33 consecutive La Liga home games, and have won the last 13 in a row.
In his last seven league matches against Celta, Leo Messi has scored eight goals and given fiveassists.
Leo Messi has equalled Cristiano Ronaldos’s record of 34 Liga hat tricks.
This was Leo Messi’s third brace of goals from free kicks in the same game. He also achieved the feat in the 2015 European Super against Sevilla and against Espanyol in the derby last season.
Sergio Busquets is now the player with the fifth highest number of appearance for Barça: 550. The only players with more are Xavi Hernandez (767), Leo Messi (698), Andrés Iniesta (674) and Carles Puyol (593).
Samuel Umtiti played his 100th official game in an FC Barcelona shirt.
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