It took a hat trick from Lionel Messi for Barcelona to vanquish a pesky Valencia squad, hellbent on staining the Spanish giants early perfect La Liga record.
Messi provided his three goals in the first 41 minutes of play and the Catalans remained unbeaten in a 3-2 victory at Mestalla.
But the loss wasn’t in vain for Los Che, as Helder Postiga kept his club honest. He saw them down 3-0 and fired off two goals in the final four minutes before the half. It was the second and third goals for the 31-year-old Portuguese who is quite enjoying his first stint with Valencia, filling the attack role voided by Roberto Soldado’s departure.
The match also marked the first start for Brazilian sensation Neymar for Gerardo Martino’s side, and he assisted Messi on his hat trick in the 41st, while winning a number of free kicks with his dribbling.
Cesc Fabregas assisted Messi on his first two goals. After Neymar was called for an offside, the Catalans persisted and Fabregas found Messi streaking towards the net and the Valencia back line out of position. Messi accepted the ball, flipped it over keeper Diego Alves and sent the ball to the back of the net for a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute.
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The duo hooked up again in the 39th minute, as Messi once again caught Los Che off guard and found himself in front of the net. This time he was challenged, but Messi still squeezed off a shot that crossed the net past Alves.
Postiga's two goals were nothing short of breathtaking. Joao Pereria first sent a cross to the middle of the Catalans area, and Postiga perfomed a side-winding flying kick that completely caught keeper Victor Valdes off guard and soared into the top right corner of the net in the 45th.
Valencia pressed on, and forced a corner kick. Ever Banega took the shot, and Postiga flew in for the header and a 3-2 score.
Despite the high volume of scoring both keepers faired well. Valdes stuffed eight of Valencia's 10 shots on target, and Alves recorded six saves.