Messi's Hat Trick Highlights Barcelona's Win Over Mallorca

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Lionel Messi

MADRID— It was showtime for Barcelona at Camp Nou Stadium.

Lionel Messi had a hat trick. Luis Suárez scored with a superb backheel goal. There was even an assist by goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen to Antoine Griezmann's first goal in six Spanish league matches.

With one of its best performances of the season, Barcelona cruised to a 5-2 win over promoted Mallorca on Saturday, keeping pace with Real Madrid and regaining the league lead.

Madrid had beaten Espanyol 2-0 earlier Saturday to provisionally move to the top, but Barcelona's win left the teams tied on points and the Catalan club ahead on goal difference.

The highlight of Barcelona's win was Suárez's 43rd-minute backheel goal, which came after a smart exchange of passes between Frenkie de Jong and Sergi Roberto. De Jong made the final pass to Suárez who was near the corner of the six-meter (yard) box, and the Uruguay striker hit the ball with the back of his right foot, pressing it down and making it bounce off the ground over goalkeeper Manolo Reina.

“I knew I had a difficult angle, my only option was to backheel the ball firmly so it would bounce and make it harder for the goalkeeper,” Suárez said. “It wouldn’t be impossible for the ball to go through if it didn’t bounce. Luckily it worked and it was a beautiful goal.”

Barcelona's dominant performance had started with Griezmann's seventh-minute goal off a long pass by Ter Stegen, who quickly took a goal kick to set up the Frenchman's run from behind the midfield line. Griezmann entered the area and niftly tapped the ball over Reina.

It was the second assist for Ter Stegen this season. He had also set up Suárez's goal against Getafe in September.

Messi was at his best, scoring in the 17th with a superb curling left-footed shot into the top corner and then with another well-placed strike from outside the area in the 41st. He completed his record 35th league hat trick from inside the area in the 83rd after Suárez's pass.

The goal also allowed Messi to take the league's scoring lead with 12 goals, one more than Real Madrid's Karim Benzema.

Before the match, Messi was presented with the Ballon d'Or award which he won for best player of the year on Monday. Messi's three young sons carried the trophy out to him as the Camp Nou crowd chanted his name.

Ante Budimir scored Mallorca's goals in the 35th and 64th minutes.

Barcelona has won nine of its last 10 league matches, including four in a row. It has lost only once in its last 14 games in all competitions.

It was the seventh consecutive away loss for Mallorca, which stayed in 17th place, one point from the relegation zone.