Gonzalo Higuain bagged a
remarkable third hat-trick in two weeks to steer Real Madrid to
a 4-1 win over Real Betis on Saturday while Lionel Messi's
double kept Barcelona top of La Liga with a 3-0 victory over
Messi, the insatiable World Player of the Year, scored in
each half at the Nou Camp to take his goal tally to 10 in the
league this season as Barca cruised past toothless Racing to
make it 17 points from seven games.
Real Madrid are a point back in second place after Messi's
Argentina team-mate Higuain recorded his second consecutive La
Having scored three against Espanyol, he then repeated the
feat against Chile on international duty last week.
"I'm very pleased. After having to wait so long to play, now
I'm enjoying myself a lot," the 23-year-old told Spanish
television, referring to the back injury that kept him out for
much of last season when he lost his place to Karim Benzema.
"I wasn't playing a few weeks ago and I'm just making the
most of my opportunities," Higuain added after his second-half
hat-trick against Betis took his tally of league goals to eight
France defender Adil Rami put Valencia ahead at Real
Mallorca in the 39th minute but the visitors then conceded a
Tomer Hemed netted from the spot to earn new Mallorca coach
Joaquin Caparros a point from his first match.
Struggling Villarreal and Getafe shared a goalless draw at
the Coliseum while Atletico Madrid were held 0-0 at promoted
Granada in the late game.
Barca made a poor start against Racing and lost defender
Gerard Pique to a hamstring injury early on but Messi soon
settled them down.
The Argentine combined with Andres Iniesta and snaked his
way towards goal, fooling the visiting keeper before slotting
the ball into an empty net from a tight angle in the 11th
Midfield playmaker Xavi rose to head the second like a
classic number nine in the 28th minute and second from bottom
Racing, who have yet to win a game this season under coach
Hector Cuper, had little to offer in response.
Messi sealed victory by firing in after Iniesta's shot came
back off the post in the 68th minute.
Barca have now scored 21 goals without reply in their first
four league games at the Nou Camp this term.
Promoted Betis made a feisty start at the Bernabeu but were
torn apart by Real Madrid just after half-time.
Cristiano Ronaldo bore down on goal in the 46th minute and
selflessly squared for Higuain to score into an empty net.
Ronaldo also helped set up the second goal when he fed Kaka
in the area and the Brazilian curled a superb shot inside the
Jorge Molina pulled one back for Betis in the 69th minute
but any thoughts of a shock comeback were quickly extinguished
when substitute Angel di Maria sent Higuain clear to round the
keeper and make it 3-1.
Di Maria set up his Argentina team-mate again in the 73rd
minute and Higuain produced a clever lob over the advancing
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