MADRID - Lionel Messi hit his 21st Barcelona hat-trick as his 10-man side edged a thrilling 5-4 victory at Deportivo La Coruna yesterday.
Jordi Alba and Cristian Tello got the other goals for Barca, who had Javier Mascherano sent-off on 48 minutes, while a Pizzi double, a Alex Bergantinos strike and an Alba own goal kept the home side in the game.
The win means Barca go three points clear of Atletico Madrid, who play today, at the top of La Liga.
Messi now has 11 league goals, two more than Cristiano Ronaldo who earlier scored for Real Madrid in a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo that kept Madrid right points behind the Catalan side.
Alba put Barca ahead on the north-west coast after only two minutes, bursting into the area to meet a Cesc Fabregas pass and finish well and, five minutes later, the lead was doubled.
Messi dinked the ball out wide for Tello who moved from right to left and then back to his right foot before hitting an unstoppable shot past Dani Aranzubia in the Deportivo goal.
Barca's third 10 minutes later was the pick of the evening.
Mascherano played a forward pass from the halfway line that Fabregas controlled and back-heeled into the path of Messi who struck a left-footed shot into the top right hand corner.