Lionel Messi scored a hat trick in a sensational display as Barcelona beat Manchester City 4-0 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday.
The five-times Ballon d’Or winner struck in the 17th, 61st and 69th minutes — the last two coming after City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo had been sent off — as Pep Guardiola suffered an unhappy return to his old club.
Messi opened the scoring with a cool finish past former Barcelona goalkeeper Bravo after Andres Iniesta’s blocked cut-back had fallen to him when Fernandinho slipped.
The goal was the 100th scored by the attacking trio of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar in all competitions in 2016.
Ivan Rakitic nearly doubled the lead in the 32nd minute, but his header from a Messi free-kick looped over Bravo’s crossbar.
But Ilkay Gundogan forced a fine close-range save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen on 38 minutes and John Stones flashed a free header wide in the 45th as the visitors tried to hit back.
Suarez was thwarted by Bravo moments later as the Chile international saved and then cleared his stabbed shot and rebound.
But City were a man down eight minutes after the break when Bravo’s poor touch went straight to Suarez, whose chip was handled by the keeper yards outside his area. He was shown a straight red card and replaced by substitute Willy Caballero.
Messi pounced for his second soon after — the Barca No. 10 receiving a pass just outside the area, cutting inside on to his left foot and beating Caballero at the near post.
He completed his treble eight minutes later after a communications breakdown at the back left Suarez alone to square for his teammate to guide in.
Barca’s first-half substitute Jeremy Mathieu was shown a second yellow card in the 74th minute for a sliding tackle on Raheem Sterling as the hosts also had a man dismissed.
Messi won a penalty minutes before full-time after weaving through the City defence, but Neymar’s kick was saved by Caballero.
However, the Brazilian got his goal moments later, curling a shot past Caballero to make it nine points from three matches for Barcelona, with the only downside to their night being the loss of Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique to knocks.
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Culled from ESPNFC