Published: Mon, March 18, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic: Double trouble for Real Betis

Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic: Double trouble for Real Betis

Messi felt the new formation was one of the keys to Barca's comfortable win as the league leaders moved 10 points clear of Atletico Madrid, who lost at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

Messi acknowledged the gesture and said, "I am grateful for the response from the fans".

"It was a very good chance to increase our distance at the top, we knew about Atletico's result and we couldn't afford to not take it", he said.

It was a goal which took Messi level with Cristiano Ronaldo on 34 La Liga hat-tricks, and the quality of his individual performance was such that even the Betis fans stood up and chanted his name to recognise a genius at work.

The forward should have scored himself in the first half, with Messi teeing him up nicely, but his left-foot shot was weak and Lopez denied him.

Suarez, clearly in pain, had to receive treatment on the sidelines and Barca later confirmed he had sprained his ankle and would undergo tests on Monday to determine how long he would be out.

Already in the final of the Copa del Rey, where Barca will return to this stadium to face Valencia in May, a treble is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility. Arthur won the free-kick after being fouled by Sergio Canales 20 yards out.

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Messi started the night as he meant to go on, firing home a free-kick right into the top corner.

And after Loren Moron's late consolation for Betis, Messi capped his latest record with a wonderful third goal to add yet another match ball to his collection.

Betis could have been four down by the hour as Suarez missed two more, but the chances kept coming, and he finally hit the mark.

Aissa Mandi made one final lunge but Suarez skipped through to finish. Ivan Rakitic rolled the ball back and he clipped a sumptuous chip over Lopez, off the crossbar and in.

The Argentine nearly repeated the trick when Barcelona won another free kick in a similar position seven minutes later, and again Messi got it on target but this time Lopez got across to make the save on the opposite side.

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