Messi scored a hat-trick at Riazor, and not for the first time. PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.

Riazor was silenced by yet another stunning display from Leo Messi. Just like he did the last time he visited the Deportivo stadium, the Argentinian found the net three times as Barça collected three hugely important points to maintain the pressure on leaders Real Madrid, who won at Getafe earlier in the day.

Messi magic

For the first time this season, Luis Enrique opted to field the same starting eleven as in the previous Liga match, the one that had done so well against Atlético Madrid. On a freezing cold evening at Riazor, Barça went out blowing as strong as the Galician wind and went a goal up after just ten minutes. Ivan Rakitic was the provider and Leo Messi ran through to meet his assist with a wonderful header over Depor stopper Fabricio and into the net.

Barça dominated the rest of the half, and could have extended their lead when Luis Suárez put a great chance just wide, while Deportivo didn’t manage their first shot until the 26th minute, and it was poor one from Cavaleiro. After 32 minutes, Messi continued his wonderful half by getting Barça’s second. Neymar supplied the ball through a confused home defence and the Argentinian finished the move with a delightful piece of skill to get beat the flailing Fabricio.

Straight from the restart, former FCB man Isaac Cuenca missed a sitter for Deportivo, and Barça could have gone in at the break with an even bigger lead had the Depor keeper not done so well to deny another fine opportunity for Suárez.

Hat-trick and a gift

Barça continued to dominate after the break, although the best chance of the first quarter of an hour went to the home side, Bravo pulling off a fine save when Juan Dominguez went for a spectacular attempt inside the six-yard box. Shortly after, the spectacle was at the other end. Rakitic laid up Leo Messi and the striker rifled the ball home to complete his hat-trick and as good as settle the match.

After a quiet spell, Barça went full-out in search of more damage in the closing fifteen minutes, with Messi very nearly scoring when a close-range shot was deflected away for a corner. In the end, the fourth goal came thanks to a dreadful mix-up in the Deportivo defence. Alves slipped the ball into the danger zone and Lopo’s clearance only got as far as Sidnei and rebounded into an empty net.

In the dying seconds, Fabricio once again prevented Suárez from getting his name on the scoresheet, and moments later the ball skimmed across the face of the goal only for the Uruguayan to fail to connect by millimetres.

But tonight was all about how Leo Messi led the charge on a magnificent night for Barça, who after disappointments at Getafe and Real Sociedad have rediscovered their away form with a thoroughly convincing performance at the Riazor.