Messi gives set-piece masterclass as Barca outclass Celta

Barcelona 4-1 Celta Vigo: Lionel Messi hits hat-trick as champions reclaim top spot

Barcelona 4-1 Celta Vigo: Lionel Messi hits hat-trick as champions reclaim top spot

Lionel Messi scored a hat trick, two of which came from free kicks, to help Barcelona climb back atop La Liga with a 4-1 victory over Celta Vigo at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

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. "He's uncontrollable, he throws all [your] plans up in the air".

"His efficiency from free kicks is incredible, his percentages are so high".

"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". We could even have won this one.

Barely three minutes after resuming the second half, the Argentine forward was presented with another opportunity from a familiar position via free kick, and the 32-year-old converted the opportunity as he completed his hat-trick in the meeting. He has scored 22 free kicks since the 2015-16 season from 174 efforts - an accuracy rate of 12.6 percent. "We depend on him as much as any team would depend on him".

Raptors' Lowry (thumb), Ibaka (ankle) out indefinitely
But I think just rhythm, especially where these guys are at right now in their season, they're flowing right now. Lowry hurt the thumb swiping at the ball on an offensive rebound by Derrick Favors in the first quarter.

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

"With Leo, anything is possible", Valverde said. "It's not normal what he does, he has an wonderful talent".

Barca's captain coolly converted a penalty to put the champions ahead in the 23rd minute but gave away a foul in a unsafe area which led to Lucas Olaza levelling for Celta with an outstanding strike from a free kick in the 42nd. Messi's two dead-ball strikes killed the game, though, with Sergio Busquets adding a late fourth.

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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