The rival fans surrendered on Sunday to the new exhibition of Lionel Messi, who scored a brilliant hat-trick in Barcelona’s 4-1 victory over Real Betis.
After the defeat on the eve of their nearest rival, Atletico Madrid, 2-0 to Athletic Bilbao, Messi put Barca fast ahead on the scoreboard with a direct foul that slipped through the squad of the team from Seville in the 18th minute.
The Argentine star increased the advantage at the end of the first half, throwing the ball into the back of the nets after a Luis Suarez heel pass, on one of the many occasions that the two South American strikers slipped between the lines of the Bética defence.
The Uruguayan striker lost several clear-cut goalscoring opportunities, but finally earned his reward in the 63rd minute, when he completed a run alongside four opposing defenders that began in his own half of the pitch.
Loren Moron scored for Betis in 82, but Messi responded with a sublime high touch that surpassed the keeper and brushed the crossbar to stay at the back of the goal and complete a new hat-trick. The Betis fans responded by chanting the Argentinian’s name and surrendering to his quality.
In the end, Barcelona offered an image of dominance and forcefulness that settled him at the head of the league and avenged his 4-3 home defeat to the green and white club in November. Barcelona now has 66 points in 28 games, while Atletico have 56 and Real Madrid are third with 54.
However, at the end of the match, there were concerns for the Catalans, as Suarez had to be attended with obvious signs of pain in an ankle.