Hat-trick hero Messi leads rout as Barca blank Raja Casablanca
Tangier: Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as Barcelona cruised to a 8-0 win over Raja Casablanca on Saturday in a pre-season friendly at the Grand Stade in Tangier.
The Argentine sealed the milestone on the stroke of half-time, but they required Alexis Sanchez to open the scoring on the night, while Dani Alves and substitutes Sergi Gomez and Gerard Deulofeu also managed to join in on the goal rush.
From the first whistle to the last, Barcelona were on top and seemed to not even break a sweat, as fans were treated to a free-flowing display of `tiki-taka` football throughout the encounter, with the Liga side showcasing many of their newest Masia graduates.
Inside 14 minutes, Alexis saw a strike deflect off of him and into the path of Alves, who drilled the ball back into the box, thus allowing the Chilean to get the ball rolling and set his side`s stall for the remainder of the match.
It then took Barca 20 minutes to make it 2-0 - this time Ibrahim Afellay threaded an inch-perfect through ball to Messi, who calmly lifted the ball over Yassine El Had to bag the first of his three goals.
Messi then extended their lead further, capitalising on a poorly-executed piece of skill by Chem-Eddine Chtibi near the Blaugrana box, nicking the ball off the midfielder before teeing up for a third.
The scoreline appeared to flatter the Spaniards, as Raja began to offer a threat in the final third, but their good fortune was short-lived as the Fifa Ballon d`Or holder allowed Alves a strike at goal, before Alexis potted the rebound.
And just before half-time, Messi bagged his hat-trick, courtesy of fine link-up play with Alexis. More of the same ensued after the break, with Alexis being tripped in the box, thus allowing Alves to get himself in amongst the goals from the penalty spot on 58 minutes.
The diminutive No.10 had further chances to bolster Barcelona`s undeniable grip on proceedings, but saw an attempt crash off the bar, while a sweeping move was stopped in its tracks by El Had, as he read the forward`s chip.
The calm looked to have eased the storm, but with only three minutes left on the clock, substitute Gomez smashed home a shot from distance, before Deulofeu fired in a wonderful free kick to round off an emphatic exhibition triumph.