SEVILLE – Lionel Messi is used to receiving adulation at the Nou Camp, but on Sunday, he got a rapturous reception from rival supporters for a majestic hat trick in Barcelona’s 4-1 win at Real Betis.
Messi opened the scoring with an unstoppable free kick, and then combined with devastating effect with Luis Suarez to carve Betis open and score a second goal right before halftime.
The Argentine saved his best goal for last, completing a victory which took Barca 10 points clear at the top of La Liga with a spectacular first-timed chip from the edge of the area, after playing a one-two with Ivan Rakitic.
Beaten Betis goalkeeper Pau Lopez looked on in awe, while the home supporters, renowned for devotion to their side, rose to their feet, bowed down to Messi and chanted his name.
“Even though the opposition concedes goals to Messi, they can still enjoy this unbelievable era which he has created. They enjoy it too, and today, they recognised that,” said Barca coach Ernesto Valverde.