Hat tricks for Messi and Ronaldo

Barcelona: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo each scored his second hat trick of the season, leading Barcelona and Real Madrid to victories in the Spanish league on Saturday night following draws in midweek.

Messi scored on brilliant individual moves in the 26th and 78th minutes, and added a goal in second-half stoppage time, leading Barcelona over visiting Atletico Madrid 5-0. Messi also forced an own-goal by Miranda in the 15th, six minutes after David Villa had put Barcelona ahead.

Messi left a trio of defenders flatfooted as he used two sleek changes of direction on his first goal, dribbled across the front of the area and left behind a swarm of defenders before an angled shot for the second, then finished off a pass from Villa for the third.

"Leo is very fast in short distances. But you have to see Leo play to understand it," Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. "You just have to find the place to get him the ball."

Although just 24 years old, Messi has 127 league goals and 192 overall for Barcelona, moving within four of Laszlo Kubala for second on the club career list in both categories. Cesar Rodriguez leads with 195 in the league and 235 overall.

Messi has 12 goals in nine matches this season and leads the league with eight, one more than Ronaldo.

At Madrid, Ronaldo scored in the 39th minute and converted penalty kicks in the 51st and 84th to help Real defeat Rayo Vallecano 6-2. Gonzalo Higuain, Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema also scored for the hosts.

Miguel Perez Cuesta put Rayo Vallecano ahead after just 12 seconds and added a goal in the 55th minute. Madrid finished a man short when Angel Di Maria was ejected for in the 56th for a handball.

Betis (4-0), which plays Monday at Getafe, leads with 12 points, one ahead of Barcelona and Sevilla (both 3-0-2), and two in front of Real Madrid and Valencia (both 3-1-1).

Freddie Kanoute`s 18th-minute goal gave Sevilla a 1-0 win over Valencia, which saw Ever Banega put a 68th-minute penalty kick off a post. Sevilla`s Piotr Trochowski (56th minute) and Aritz Aduriz (71st) both received red cards, as did Valencia`s Julien Escude (68th).

Villarreal tied 1-1 at Athletic Bilbao, with Nilmar scoring for the Yellow Submarine in the 53rd from a cross by New Jersey-born forward Giuseppe Rossi.

Bureau Report

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