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17th Mar 2019

Lionel Messi gets standing ovation from Real Betis fans for stunning hat-trick

Simon Lloyd

A special moment for a special player

Even now, the best part of two decades after he exploded onto the scene, Lionel Messi is still capable of turning in the kind of performance that leaves you surprised at just how ridiculously good he is.

In Seville on Sunday night, he did exactly that, scoring a hat-trick as Barcelona extended their lead at the top of La Liga to ten points with a 4-1 win over Real Betis.

Betis had beaten Barca in the return fixture in the Camp Nou earlier in the season, but the contest was as good as over by half-time thanks to a Messi brace.

The first came from a perfectly executed free-kick on 18 minutes; the second after he calmly slotted away Luis Suarez’s back-heeled through-ball just before the break.

Suarez scored Barca’s third soon after the hour mark to kill off any faint hopes from the Betis support. Though their side were able to pull one back inside the closing ten minutes through Loren, the final say went to Messi, with his best goal of the night.

The ball played to him on the edge of the area, the Argentine lofted the ball over Pau López, who’d strayed barely a couple of yards from his goal line. Clipping the underside of the crossbar on its way in, this sealed a 4-1 victory for Barca.

Well aware that they were in the presence of greatness, Betis supporters sung Messi’s name from the Estadio Benito Villamarín stands, many giving a standing ovation.

A special moment for a special player.