Football: Messi masterclass hits Getafe for six

Barcelona's Lionel Messi (right) vies the ball against Getafe's Alvaro Pereira. PHOTO: REUTERS

(AFP) - Lionel Messi scored, provided three assists and missed a penalty as Barcelona pressed home their advantage at the top of La Liga with a 6-0 thrashing of Getafe on Saturday.

Atletico Madrid stayed eight points adrift of Barca at the top with 3-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna thanks to goals from Saul Niguez, Antoine Griezmann and Angel Correa.

Juan Rodriguez's own goal opened the scoring at the Nou Camp, before Messi saw his penalty saved by Vicente Guaita, teed up Munir El Haddadi and Neymar and smashed home his 36th goal of the season all before half-time.

Neymar and Arda Turan rounded off the scoring to seal Barca's 12th straight La Liga win after the break.

Real Madrid are now 15 points adrift of Barca in third ahead of their trip to Las Palmas on Sunday.

An eighth defeat in nine games leaves Getafe just a point above the relegation zone.

"This is a unique team, different to the rest and which does things that make it seem like there is nothing the opponent can do," said Barca boss Luis Enrique.

"It is a great pleasure to be in this position."

The European champions were not even at full strength as Enrique left Luis Suarez on the bench ahead of Barca's return to Champions League action against Arsenal on Wednesday.

Yet, the hosts still only took seven minutes to break the deadlock as Jordi Alba's driven cross towards Messi was scooped into the far corner of his own net by Rodriguez.

Barca's one fallibility this season was exposed moments later when Neymar was chopped down by Emiliano Velazquez inside the area.

Messi took responsiblity, but for the ninth time in 20 spot kicks Barca failed to convert, as Guaita dived to his left to turn the five-time World Player of the Year's effort to safety.

Guaita's intervention kept Getafe in the game for just a further nine minutes as Messi directed Andres Iniesta's through ball onto El Haddadi's head for the second.

Neymar's display had been under scrutiny after he took advantage of being suspended for last weekend's 4-0 win at Eibar to fly back to Brazil to celebrate his sister's birthday.

Yet, the break seemed to do the 24-year-old good as he raced onto a brilliant Messi pass to slot home his first goal in four games.

Messi then took out his frustration at not netting from the spot to rifle home the fourth from outside the box five minutes before half-time.

The pattern continued after the break with Messi in generous mood with another clinical through ball for Neymar to sweep home his 25th goal of the season.

And Turan added a sixth just before the hour mark with an acrobatic overhead kick which left Guaita flatfooted.

Atletico also warmed up for their crucial Champions League clash with PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday with victory as they eased past an under-strength and out-of- form Deportivo.

Niguez opened the scoring with a powerful header from Filipe Luis's cross after 18 minutes.

The hosts were completely dominant and should have doubled their lead before half-time as Yannick Carrasco fired straight at German Lux before Griezmann slotted wide a guilt-edged opportunity.

Carrasco crashed a shot off the post just after the break, but Griezmann did finally make the game safe when he slotted into the far corner for his 23rd goal of the season.

And substitute Correa rounded off the scoring after latching onto Gabi's ball over the top seven minutes from time.

Elsewhere, Celta Vigo bounced back from their 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Real Madrid last weekend as Iago Aspas's early winner moved them up to fifth with a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad.

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