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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - It was showtime for Barcelona as Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick and Luis Suárez added more magic with a stunning backheeled goal.
There was even an assist by goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegenas Barca sparkled at the Camp Nou.
With one of its best performances of the season, they cruised to a 5-2 win over promoted Mallorca, keeping pace with Real Madrid and regaining the league lead.
Madrid had beaten Espanyol 2-0 earlier Saturday, but Barcelona's win left the teams tied on points and the Catalan club ahead on goal difference.
The highlight of Barcelona's win was Suárez's 43rd-minute backheel, which came after a smart exchange of passes between Frenkie de Jong and Sergi Roberto.
De Jong made the final pass to Suárez who was near the corner of the six-yard box, and the Uruguay striker hit the ball with the back of his right foot, making it bounce off the ground over goalkeeper Manolo Reina.
“I knew I had a difficult angle, my only option was to backheel the ball firmly so it would bounce and make it harder for the goalkeeper,” Suárez said. “It wouldn’t be impossible for the ball to go through if it didn’t bounce. Luckily it worked and it was a beautiful goal.”
Barcelona's dominant performance had started with Antoine Griezmann's seventh-minute goal, created by Ter Stegen, who quickly took a goal kick to set up the Frenchman's run from behind the midfield before tapping the ball over Reina.
Messi was at his best, scoring in the 17th minute with a superb curling left-footed shot into the top corner and then with another well-placed strike from outside the area four minutes before half time. He completed his record 35th league hat-trick from inside the area in the 83rd minute from Suárez's pass.
The goal also allowed Messi to top the seson's scoring charts with 12 goals, one more than Real Madrid's Karim Benzema.
Before the match, Messi was presented with the Ballon d'Or award which he won for best player of the year on Monday. Messi's three young sons carried the trophy out to him as the Camp Nou crowd chanted his name.
Ante Budimir scored Mallorca's goals in the 35th and 64th minutes.
Barcelona have won nine of their last 10 league matches, including four in a row, and have lost only once in their last 14 games in all competitions.
Raphael Varane and Benzema scored a goal in each half to give Madrid victory over second bottom Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabéu.
The result extended Madrid's unbeaten run in all competitions to nine matches and was their fourth straight league win.
Updated: December 8, 2019 09:00 AM
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