Messi humbled by Real Betis fans' standing ovation after hat-trick

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Messi struck with a powerful free kick in the 17th minute.

Lionel Messi netted the first goal in the 18th minute from a superb free-kick to give Barcelona the lead. He completed his treble late on with an exquisite chip after Suarez and Loren Moron had exchanged goals. His shot grazed the underside of the bar before going in, triggering the outburst of praise from Betis fans. Real Betis, however, did hand Barca one of its two league losses in November.

Atletico Madrid's surprise defeat at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday gave Barca the chance to stretch their advantage at the summit going into the final worldwide break of the season.

But regardless of the fixtures, Barca seem to be saving their best for the home straight, which bodes badly for Manchester United, whom they face in the Champions League quarter-finals next month.

Barcelona is playing in incredible form right now and once again have a chance to win triple crown this season, LaLiga, Copa del Rey and Champions League. Moreover, this was the 477th win for Messi in a Blaugrana jersey, a new club record as he overtook Xavi, who had 476 wins with the club. Worse things have happened before. We're fortunate to be living at a time when he's playing football.

The ball was dropped back to the five-time Ballon d'Or victor just inside the box, and he produced a ideal first-time lob over Lopez, who was no more than two yards off his line but could only watch as the ball clipped the underside of the crossbar and went in. Messi, though, is used to special.

All the rest of their opponents now sit 10th or lower. It mattered little, however, as the Uruguayan immediately made amends by scoring a magnificent individual effort.

Suarez appeared to hurt his lower right leg late in the match.

The Catalan club have confirmed he will undergo further tests on Monday to determine the severity of the injury, but he will not join up with Uruguay during the global break this week. He scored three goals and could have scored a fourth.

Betis came again, Arthur twice scrambling the ball away from Canales in the box, before Suarez missed a sitter after being teed up by Messi. "He is able to singlehandedly decide games".

Messi has now scored a insane 39 goals and provided 18 assists in 37 matches so far this term and is undoubtedly on a different level to all other players in the world.

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