MADRID: Lionel Messi scored his 50th career hat-trick as he inspired Barcelona’s comeback to beat Sevilla 4-2 and keep the champions unassailable at the top of the Spanish league.

First he equalised with a stunning volley from 16 yards out, then levelled again with a curling shot from the edge of the box. Finally Messi chipped the opposition goalkeeper for his third on 85 minutes, his 36th goal in 35 games against Sevilla.

For good measure he then set up Luis Suarez for a fourth goal in injury time.

This latest hat-trick takes the Argentina international to 25 La Liga goals for the season and puts him nine clear of teammate Suarez

In all competitions, he has 33 goals in 32 games – including six in the Champions League as Barcelona chase the treble.

Messi’s third goal was his 650th career strike – 585 for Barca and 65 for Argentina.

Messi said later: “I’m happy to contribute to the result here today and the three points, that’s the most important thing, that we’ve got our advantage still over our rivals.

“It was really important to win here today because of what it means, because of the opponents, and because of how the league is. It was important to maintain the advantage we had over the teams chasing us and take on what’s coming.

“We are relaxed in that sense, we know we’ve got quality players, we know the goals will come, we know we can get back to playing our kind of football.

“I think we haven’t been at our best in the last few matches but we want to play good football, creating chances and scoring goals. We knew how difficult it was going to be here. Sevilla got themselves ahead, they’re a great team. We knew that could happen.

“We were prepared for a tough game. We had to overcome them and we had to turn the result around.”

Lionel Messi stats

  • 650 career goals
  • 585 club goals
  • 65 international goals
  • 50 hat-tricks
  • 33 goals in 32 games this season
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