Suarez nets hat trick as Barca rally; Ronaldo brace lifts Real Madrid

Suarez nets hat trick as Barca rally; Ronaldo brace lifts Real Madrid

Cheryl Sanders
February 25, 2018

Ter Stegen had to be awake to make a late save in extra time, but it was ultimately a dismal display from Girona compared to the ideal performance from the league leaders who maintained their seven point lead at the top of the table.

Messi grabbed two goals while Philippe Coutinho scored one with Luis Suarez bagging his first hat-trick of the season.

Girona won automatic promotion last May and nine LaLiga wins this season had lifted them up to ninth in the table heading into the match, but the gulf in class between them and their hosts was marked.

The victory over Girona was their 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.

Messi had already given Barca a 2-1 lead - after visiting striker Portu gave Girona a shock lead in the third minute - with a mesmeric dribble from the byline but he pulled an altogether different trick to score their third, to leave goalkeeper Bono completely surprised.

The six goal haul was the antithesis of their stymied showing in the Champions League midweek, and sent a resounding message of intent to their title "rivals" Atletico Madrid before the highly anticipated fixture between the two sides in a week's time. "Messi feels a great responsibility for the team and he took it on during the early part of the game".

"When you see it, you think 'ah, of course.' Leo makes it look easy, but it's not that easy".

Cutting in off the left flank, the former Liverpool forward showcased his talents with a superb curling effort to find the far corner of the net to score his first La Liga goal.

With 13 minutes left to play, Suarez completed his hat-trick as Ousmane Dembele managed to pick out the striker with an inch ideal cross from the right-hand side and Suarez made no mistake.

Suarez then capped off a fantastic half when he tapped in to finish a superb team goal. Portu's strike from an angle hit both posts before settling into the net.

Nelson Semedo, meanwhile, will undergo tests on a hamstring injury on Sunday after being forced off in the final minutes of the game. How long he might be sidelined was yet to be determined.

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