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Lionel Messi's hat-trick earns standing ovation from Betis fans, Barca captain says 'very grateful'

Barcelona's Lionel Messi gestures after scoring a goal. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team Barcelona, Spain Mar 18, 2019, 07.07 AM (IST)

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick of the highest quality as Barcelona avenged their defeat by Real Betis earlier in the season to move 10 points clear at the top of La Liga.

The Barcelona captain was in superb form scoring his 51st hat-trick with the first goal being a 20-yard free-kick before he converted Luis Suarez's backheel pass with a toe-poked strike.

Suarez scored a fine individual effort while Loren Moron grabbed Betis' only goal with a superb finish.

Messi, however, was applauded by Real Betis fans after scoring a brilliant third goal and thanked the opposition supporters for the kind gesture.

“I don’t remember being applauded by rival fans for a goal before. I am very grateful for the response of the supporters,” Messi said.

“I don’t know, I was lucky that both of them went in but above all we got the three points. We knew that we had a good opportunity to put a little distance between ourselves and Atlético and we couldn’t fail.”

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It was yet another sensational performance from the GOAT, as it was a club-record 477th win in a Barcelona shirt.

Story highlights

'I don’t remember being applauded by rival fans for a goal before,' Messi said. 'I am very grateful for the response of the supporters.”