Messi’s historic feat, Ronaldo’s brace as giants romp
REAL Madrid and Barcelona were merciless in La Liga overnight as their biggest names dominated the scoresheet.
The Catalans' 6-1 victory over Girona extended their league unbeaten streak to 32 games, bettering the previous club record set by Pep Guardiola's side in 2010/11. While Lionel Messi created some history of his own, becoming La Liga's best ever assist provider, with his 148th assist bettering Real Madrid legend Michel's mark.
Luis Suarez scored a hat trick while Philippe Coutinho continued his goalscoring form.
Los Blancos had a big day of their own, with their feared front three of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale spearheading a 4-0 demolition of Alaves.
Ronaldo nabbed a double, while Bezema and Bale each grabbed a goal of their own.
BARCELONA 6-1 GIRONA
Lionel Messi gave another masterful performance and Luis Suarez scored a hat trick to lead Barcelona to a new club record after routing Girona 6-1 in the Spanish league on Saturday.
Messi took his competition-leading tally to 22 goals as Barcelona increased its lead of the Spanish league to 10 points before second-place Atletico Madrid visits Sevilla on Sunday.
Barcelona broke its club milestone for longest unbeaten run in La Liga that had stood at 31 games since the 2010-11 season under former coach Pep Guardiola. The win over Girona was Barcelona's 32nd league game without a loss after going undefeated through all 25 rounds this season under Ernesto Valverde plus the last seven from the last campaign under Luis Enrique.
Real Sociedad set the league record of 38 games without a loss in 1980. After setting up the first of Suarez's goals, Messi danced around two defenders to give Barcelona the lead on the half-hour mark.
He added another goal six minutes later with a superbly struck free kick that he sent low under the players in the defensive barrier when they jumped, anticipating he would try to shoot over them.
"When you think you have seen everything he goes and surprises you with a goal like that from the free kick," Valverde said about Messi. "Messi feels a great responsibility for the team and he took it on during the early part of the game. He makes the difficult look easy." Philippe Coutinho had his moment to shine after Suarez's second goal when he curled home a brilliant strike from outside the area to make it 5-1 in the 66th. Suarez completed his treble 10 minutes later when he tapped in a cross by Ousmane Dembele.
Suarez, who also hit the post early in the second half, netted his 18th, 19th and 20th goals in the league, a total surpassed by only Messi. Cristian "Portu" Portuguese struck early for Girona when he caught Samuel Umtiti being far too complacent when he raced in from behind to reach a ball near Barcelona's box. Portu's strike from an angle hit both posts before settling into the net.
Barcelona right back Nelson Semedo appeared to injury his left leg late in the match when he needed to be attended by team doctors.
Girona fell into ninth place. The Catalan club has impressed in its debut season in the first division, and lost only once in the six games prior to Saturday.
REAL MADRID 4-0 ALAVES
Real Madrid's 'BBC' strike force hit back with a vengeance when Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema all scored in a 4-0 win over Alaves as the champions moved within four points of second-placed Atletico Madrid. Ronaldo returned to the starting line-up after being rested for Wednesday's game with Leganes and after shaking off a painful ankle knock the Portuguese put Real ahead on the stroke of halftime, taking advantage of a clever backheel from Benzema.
Benzema was also the catalyst for Real's second goal which came under a minute into the second half, with the Frenchman winning the ball back in midfield and tearing towards goal before slipping it into Bale's path for the Wales international to slot it inside the near post.
Ronaldo struck Real's third goal of the day and his 299th in La Liga in the 61st minute, meeting a cutback from in-form winger Lucas Vazquez first time and sending it under the reach of former Real goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco. Ronaldo then surrendered the opportunity to score a hat-trick by offering Benzema penalty-taking duties after Bale was brought down. The Frenchman made no mistake, converting from the spot in the 89th minute.
"It's a good feeling to score four goals and keep a clean sheet," manager Zinedine Zidane said.
"The four players up front played really well and three of them scored. It was a nice gesture that Ronaldo allowed Benzema to take the penalty. He deserved his goal today." Real are third in the standings on 51 points, four behind Atletico who can widen the gap back to seven when they visit Sevilla on Sunday.