Madrid: Barcelona set a Spanish record of 35 matches unbeaten in all competitions with a 5-1 win at nine-man Rayo Vallecano in La Liga on Thursday after Lionel Messi scored his 35th hat-trick.
Ivan Rakitic opened the scoring, Messi caught up with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo on 35 trebles in all competitions and Arda Turan completed the rout with Turkey`s captain scoring his first goal for the club since joining from Atletico Madrid.
Rayo defender Diego Llorente was sent off three minutes before halftime for a foul on Rakitic and Manuel Iturra followed in the 67th for bringing down Sergio Busquets in the poenalty area, although Luis Suarez`s penalty was saved by Juan Carlos.
Barca`s victory, which saw them beat the undefeated record Real Madrid had held since the 1988/89 season, restored an eight-point lead at the top over Atletico with 11 matches to go.
Atletico beat visiting Real Sociedad 3-0 on Tuesday, while third-placed Real Madrid are again 12 points off the pace after a 3-1 win at Levante on Wednesday.