Messi nets treble as Barca hammers Levante

Barcelona, Spain ( - Lionel Messi fired home a hat trick on Sunday as Barcelona ran out comfortable 5-0 winners over Levante at the Camp Nou.

The result extends Barca's run of fine form as the Catalan giants have won 11 consecutive matches across all competitions to move within one point of leaders Real Madrid for the top spot in La Liga.

By Barcelona standards, it took a little while to get rolling, but the hosts struck first in the 17th minute as Neymar found the back of the net and Messi doubled the advantage in the 38th minute to make it 2-0 at the break.

The home side continued its domination in the second 45 minutes as Messi netted his second of the day in the 59th minute and converted a penalty kick seven minutes later to complete the hat trick and make it 4-0.

Former Liverpool star Luis Suarez capped the rout in the 73rd minute when he got on the end of a looped cross from Adriano in the box and finished with an outstanding overhead smash into the bottom left corner, leaving Levante goalkeeper Diego Marino with little chance for a save.

Levante suffered its fourth defeat in five league matches to remain firmly in the relegation zone on 19 points from 23 matches played.

Also in Spain on Sunday, Alvaro Negredo netted a penalty kick with 18 minutes to play to hand Valencia a 1-0 victory over Getafe, while Alberto Bueno and Gael Kakuta scored second-half goals to lift Rayo Vallecano to a 2-0 win against Villarreal.

In Sunday's final fixture, defending champions Atletico Madrid failed to keep pace with Barcelona and Real Madrid after suffering a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Celta Vigo thanks to goals from Nolito and Fabian Orellana.