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Nov 9, 2019 at 8pm UK
Barcelona
4-1
Celta Vigo
Messi (23' pen., 45', 48'), Busquets (85')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Olaza (42')
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Ernesto Valverde heaps more praise on Lionel Messi after record-equalling treble

:Headline: Ernesto Valverde heaps more praise on Lionel Messi after record-equalling treble:
The Argentina playmaker has matched Cristiano Ronaldo's record of 34 LaLiga hat-tricks.
PA | 25d

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde praised the perfect display of Lionel Messi after his treble, including two superb free-kicks, helped beat Celta Vigo 4-1 and put the team back top of LaLiga.

Real Madrid's convincing 4-0 win at Eibar earlier on Saturday had kept up the pressure.

Messi gave Barca an early lead from the penalty spot, only for Celta, in their first match under new boss Oscar Garcia, to equalise through Lucas Olaza's free-kick.

The Argentina playmaker, though, then produced a trademark free-kick of his own to put Barca back in front heading into half-time.

Messi completed his treble – matching the record of Cristiano Ronaldo of 34 in LaLiga – when he clipped in another impeccably executed deadball strike soon after the restart.

Sergio Busquets, on as a first-half substitute, crashed in a late fourth as Barcelona moved back top above Real Madrid on goal difference.

"With Leo, anything is possible," Valverde said. "This (taking free-kicks) is something that he has mastered to perfection.

"Because of this, the opponent can't commit fouls on the edge of their own box. If they do, we try to take advantage.

"Messi, apart from scoring goals, has a commitment to the game."

Messi again proved too hot to handle (Joan Monfort/AP)

Barcelona had suffered an unexpected 3-1 defeat at Levante last weekend, and were then held to a goalless home draw by Slavia Prague in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

"After losing, it's nice to win. Even more so in a team like ours," Valverde said in quotes reported by Marca.

"We had a damaging defeat the other day and we needed a win tonight.

"It was really difficult for us in the first half, with their high press that made it hard for us to play out and we didn't have much rhythm in our play."

Garcia replaced Fran Escriba, who was sacked after the 1-0 defeat by Getafe, remains positive despite Celta now having lost a fifth straight game and sitting 18th.

The former Brighton and Watford manager, who started his career at the Nou Camp, said: "We wanted to go out, be brave and win.

"We did well in the first half, then in the second, the team dropped physically, but I am very proud of the work of my players."

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Always him ⚽️ Siempre Leo. Sempre Messi 🐐

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Garcia knows Messi can "decide the match in one action".

The Celta boss said in press conference quotes reported by Marca: "It is uncontrollable. He has a very high percentage of fouls, you can not avoid making mistakes in that area.

"Without him, the match it would have been very different, and we would have had an even chance of winning."

Barcelona later confirmed right-back Nelson Semedo would be out for around five weeks with the calf problem which forced him off after 23 minutes.

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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool15141037142343
2Leicester CityLeicester1511223592635
3Manchester CityMan City15102343172632
4Chelsea159243021929
5Wolverhampton WanderersWolves155822117423
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd155642318521
7Crystal Palace156361418-421
8Tottenham HotspurSpurs155552523220
9Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd144731713419
10Arsenal144732021-119
11Burnley155372124-318
12Bournemouth154471821-316
13West Ham UnitedWest Ham154471725-816
14Newcastle UnitedNewcastle144461322-916
15Aston Villa154382224-215
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton144371621-515
17Southampton154381733-1615
18Everton154291627-1114
19Norwich CityNorwich1532101632-1611
20Watford15159930-218
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