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Messi hat-trick sinks Raja Casablanca

Lionel Messi starred again as he hit a hat-trick for Barcelona in their 8-0 friendly win over Raja Casablanca at the Grand Stade in Tangier.

Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring, before Messi doubled his side's advantage. The pair scored the next two goals to put Barcelona 4-0 ahead and Messi completed his hat-trick on the stroke of half-time.

Dani Alves got on the scoresheet from the penalty spot in the 58th minute before youngsters Sergi Roberto and Gerard Deulofeu added two more in the last three minutes.

After the game new Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova heaped praise on Messi in his first pre-season appearance after missing the match against Hamburg on Tuesday.

"When you have the best player in the world, with this scoring capacity, he usually makes the difference, and once again he did it," Vilanova told reporters. "This match was good to pick up the pace because we faced a team that made us run.

"The players from the youth side? They always play well. Everyone played at a very high level tonight."

Messi himself told El Mundo Deportivo, "I haven't been able to do a good pre-season for a long time because I always arrived late. It has been very good to have such a long rest.

"The way of training has continued in the same way and we are working with the same people so we haven't noted any changes. We are in pre-season and so you notice the tiredness. They kept the ball well and made us run a lot but we will get better with every game.

"We are training very hard and we have to continue like that to arrive in the best shape possible for the important matches.''

Vilanova also spoke about injured striker David Villa - who has not yet featured for Barca since sustaining a fractured tibia at the Club World Cup in December - but could not offer any update.

"We are talking about a serious injury, with a long recovery time," he said. "When he is fine, we will be delighted to welcome him back.


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