Barca stay atop as Messi crosses 300 league goals
Lionel Messi moved past 300 La Liga goals as Barcelona moved six points clear at the top of the table with a 3-1 win at Sporting Gijon on Thursday.
The five-time World Player of the Year struck either side of Carlos Castro's well-worked equaliser in a three-goal burst in five first-half minutes. Atletico Madrid are Barca's closest challengers with Real Madrid a further point adrift in third.
Messi broke the deadlock with a deadly accurate drive into the bottom corner from 25 yards to become the first player ever to bring up a triple century of La Liga goals.
Yet, the lead only lasted two minutes as a brilliant counter-attack saw Pablo Perez pick out Menendez on the left and his low cross was swept home at the back post by Castro. Barca promptly responded, though, as Suarez showed great strength to hold the ball up and then lay it off for Messi to fire into the roof of the net with the outside of his left foot.
Luis Enrique's men should have put the game out of sight before half-time as Cuellar flew to his right to prevent Messi from scoring a first-half hat-trick before Neymar curled the rebound against the post.
Barca's demolition of Celta in the final half an hour on Sunday was lit up by Messi's decision to pass a penalty into Suarez's path to complete his hat-trick. And the former Liverpool striker may have regretted not returning the favour as Cuellar dived to his right to save Suarez's spot-kick after the 'keeper had brought down Neymar.
However, Suarez made amends with a brilliant goal 23 minutes from time when his left-footed effort curled in off the far post for his 40th goal of the season.