BARCELONA - Barcelona further closed the gap on La Liga leaders Real Madrid with a 5-3 defeat of Granada at Camp Nou on Tuesday, but it was the club's little Argentine talisman who stole the headlines with a record-breaking performance.
Lionel Messi surpassed Cesar Rodriguez for the club's all-time scoring lead with a hat trick to bring his career Barcelona total to 234 goals in all competitions. The Argentine star pulled level with Rodriguez with a goal in the 17th minute after Xavi opened the scoring under four minutes into the match.
The Catalans took their two-goal lead into halftime but were given a scare when Granada cut the lead in half in the 55th minute through Diego Mainz and then drew level following a penalty kick from Guilherme Siqueira in the 62nd minute.
But Messi helped revive the Catalans as he completed his hat trick with goals in the 67th and 86th minutes. Cristian Tello sealed the win with his third goal of the season, netting what would prove to be the game-winner eight minutes from time.
The match ended on somewhat of a sour note for Barcelona as Dani Alves was sent off late for a second bookable offence, which took place in the box and handed Granada its second penalty kick of the contest. Siqueira again converted from the spot to wrap up the scoring.
Barcelona, on 66 points, moves to within five points of Real Madrid after Jose Mourinho's men were held to a draw against Malaga on Sunday. The La Liga leaders do hold a game in hand, though.
Granada remains in the bottom-half of the table, seven points clear of the relegation zone.