Messi, Neymar fire Barca rout
While Lionel Messi scored twice, Neymar da Silva Santos went one better with a hat-trick.
BARCELONA - Lionel Messi netted the 400th goal of his storied career on Saturday as Barcelona trounced Granada 6-0 to maintain the pace at the top of La Liga.
Messi scored twice and Neymar da Silva Santos went one better with a hat-trick in Barca's rout but champions Atletico Madrid are on their tail after a late Raul Jimenez header completed a 4-0 victory over Sevilla that left them two points behind in second.
Real Madrid are also in hot pursuit, four points behind in fifth, after Cristiano Ronaldo kept up his rich scoring form with the second goal in a 2-0 win at Villarreal where Luka Modric had put them ahead.
Messi's extraordinary achievement of reaching the career landmark of 400 goals was the highlight of Barca's victory, leading to effusive praise for the great Argentine from manager Luis Enrique.
"He (Messi) is someone who has been given a real magic and who enjoys playing football. I was thinking about taking him off but I enjoy watching him so much that I left him on for the 90 minutes," Enrique told a news conference.
Messi's second goal, thieving the ball off Jeison Murillo and slotting past the keeper, was the landmark 400th -- his 358th for Barcelona to accompany the 42 he has scored for Argentina.
It illuminated Barca's perfect response following their 0-0 draw at Malaga, which featured not one shot on target and they now have 16 points from six games.
Neymar broke Granada's stubborn resistance with a scrappy goal midway through the first half when his shot hit Jean-Sylvain Babine and looped over keeper Roberto Fernandez.
Then in the run-up to halftime Granada's concentration slipped as Ivan Rachitic headed home a Messi cross and Neymar got his second.
A fine move led to Danni Laves volleying a cross for Messi to head home the fourth after 65 minutes before Neymar struck again to complete his treble four minutes later, confidently picking his spot in the corner.
"The team is looking very efficient at the moment whichever players we are putting out," said Luis Enrique.
Barca are yet to have a goal scored against them in the league after six games and Rachitic put that achievement down to team discipline.
"We knew the game against Malaga was going to be difficult, the same as against Granada, but here we have been patient and shown better movement," he said.
"We had to work hard. The fact that we haven't conceded a goal yet is not a coincidence but due to the effort we are putting in."