Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has spent 15 years displaying the outrageous quality that he possesses, yet he still finds ways to surprise people. His performance at the Estadio Benito Villamarin against Real Betis on Sunday night was extraordinary and after sealing his hat-trick with a reverse chip over Pau Lopez from just inside the box, the Argentine received an ovation from the entire stadium.
It no longer sounds special to say that Messi scored a hat-trick as he has accumulated 51 in his professional career. Part of what made the hat-trick against Betis feel special, however, was the way in which each goal was different; it displayed the wealth of resources that the Barcelona captain can call upon.
The French commentator's devilish laugh for Messi's first and third goals, sums the ridiculousness perfectly. pic.twitter.com/tCmzDrgWLA
— keep it PG (@abhinav757) March 17, 2019
His first goal of the night came via a free-kick. From a few yards outside the box, just to the right of the D, Messi sent his effort into the top left corner, even though Lopez was stood on that side. The pace that the shot was hit with made it almost impossible for the former Espanyol goalkeeper to make the save.
The second was more like a goal scored by a striker. Messi started running into the area as soon as the Blaugrana regained possession in Betis‘ half and Luis Suarezwas able to pick out the Barcelona No.10 with an incredible backheel, before Messi used the outside of his left foot to beat Lopez from 10 yards out, whilst under pressure from William Carvalho, Aissa Mandi and Sidnei.
Messi‘s third was a thing of beauty. Almost walking onto Ivan Rakitic‘s layoff from the left-hand side of the box, the 31-year-old sent a reverse chip over Lopezfrom just inside the area, with the ball kissing the underside of the crossbar before hitting the back of the net. The television cameras almost immediately went to Lopez and he was in disbelief at what had just happened. “What a beast,” the Spaniard seemed to mutter to himself.
With those three goals on Sunday, Messi is up to 29 goals this season in LaLiga Santander, 11 ahead of Luis Suarez in second. He has all but wrapped up the race for the Pichichi Trophy, and he is in a great position to win the Golden Boot, too.