Lionel Messi's 'hat-trick' gives Barcelona and Quique Setien breathing space - in pictures

Lionel Messi's 'hat-trick' gives Barcelona and Quique Setien breathing space - in pictures
Lionel Messi's 'hat-trick' gives Barcelona and Quique Setien breathing space - in pictures

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Lionel Messi played a big role in Barcelona's hard-fought and much-needed win over Real Betis on Sunday.

Messi provided all three assists as Barcelona ended a difficult week with a 3-2 win to remain in the La Liga title race, trailing Real Madrid by three points.

After Madrid's 4-1 win at Osasuna earlier in the day, Barcelona were under pressure. In the match, Betis took the lead twice through a penalty from Sergio Canales and a fine effort from Nabil Fekir at the Benito Villamarin Stadium.

Barcelona hit back through Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets before Clement Lenglet scored with 18 minutes left; all three goals set up by Messi.

Barca held on for victory, which is just what the club needed after a rough few days.

The atmosphere in Barcelona had become tense after sporting director Eric Abidal suggested lack of commitment from the players was one of the main reasons behind the sacking of former manager Ernesto Valverde. Messi hit back, saying the senor hierarchy must take responsibility.

Barcelona were then beaten by Athletic Bilbao and knocked out of the Copa del Rey. To make matters worse, Ousmane Dembele suffered another hamstring injury.

Manager Quique Setien said the win has come at the perfect time.

"In Bilbao we played well but they knocked us out," said Setien. "This win will give us motivation and extra energy for the future."

"I really liked the team," he added. "You have to give these things value. They pressed us a lot. We had a complicated start and weren't comfortable at any point.

"Fekir played an extraordinary game and it was hard to get the ball off him, but we had our moments too."

Lenglet were sent off towards the end of the match and Setien said there was room for improvement.

"We're still missing things," he said. "It's a very important win that gives us points away from home, which is something that was becoming complicated."

Updated: February 10, 2020 09:50 AM

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