Real Betis were given a footballing lesson against Barcelona thanks to a Lionel Messi masterclass who bagged a hat-trick in the game.
The Barcelona captain later admitted he was touched by the home fans gesture who sang his name and applauded him following his exquisite finish for the third goal.
Atleti’s loss leaves the Catalan giants 10 points clear of the chasing pack at the top of LaLiga Santander, with the chances for a dramatic collapse lessening by the day.
“After Atletico’s defeat, we couldn’t falter,” he explained in the mixed zone. “It’s a very important victory today.
🏴 Jimmy McGrory: 4⃣1⃣0⃣ goals in the Scottish League 1922-37
🇭🇺 Imre Schlosser: 4⃣1⃣1⃣ goals in the Hungarian League 1905-28
They don't make footballers like they used to…
They make them even better!
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 18, 2019
“Goals are important as they allow us to take three points, and we took advantage of a very good opportunity.”
Messi reckoned Quique Setien’s charges mounted an incredible challenge with their pressing game and attacking style.
The first half saw the hosts create a number of chances, and the Argentine feels as though it took a lot for Los Cules to come away with all three points.
“They’re a team that treat the ball very well,” he admitted via Marca.
“However, we didn’t suffer for a moment; we were very organised.
“Sometimes we have to adapt our style to suit the opposition, and in specific moments of matches we have to be prepared for anything.”
Messi holds the Barcelona record for:
—And now wins
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 17, 2019
His brilliant chipped finish over Pau Lopez from just inside the penalty area made headlines after the game, and the 31-year-old was touched by the gesture.
“I’m very grateful,” he confirmed.
“It’s never happened to me before. They always treat us very well, regardless of whether we’re rivals.”