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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Oct 15, 2011

Higuain treble, Messi bags a brace

Gonzalo Higuain's third hat-trick in his last four matches steered Real Madrid to an emphatic home 4-1 win over Real Betis.

• Barcelona to lose Pique for two weeks
•  Blog: Is La Liga worth watching?

Higuain hit a treble on his last La Liga appearance for Madrid, away to Espanyol on October 2, and added another for his country in the World Cup qualifying match against Chile.

Jose Mourinho's team were subdued in the first half, carving out few notable chances, but Higuain set the tone after the interval when he scored inside the opening minute. It was 2-0 in the 59th minute when Ronaldo teased the Betis defenders before picking out Kaka.

Betis pulled one back through Jorge Molina, whose left-footed shot took a nick off Marcelo on its way past Iker Casillas. But a minute later it was 3-1 as sub Angel Di Maria played a smart ball from the right for Higuain to collect and sidestep goalkeeper Espinosa Casto before sliding in a precise finish from a narrow angle. The hat-trick arrived in the 73rd minute.

Lionel Messi reached another Barcelona landmark with two more brilliant goals to inspire his side to a 3-0 victory over Racing Santander.

The Argentinian added the finish following a slick one-two with Andres Iniesta to move clear in second on the Catalan club's list of all-time top goalscorers. And he rounded off the scoring with a simple finish after Iniesta had produced an outrageous piece of skill and shot against a post.

Messi's two goals were his 195th and 196th in all competitions for Barca and took him ahead of Laszlo Kubala on the all-time list.

Xavi scored with a rare header in between times as Barca remained one point ahead of Real Madrid at the top of the table and winless Racing remained in the bottom three.

Atletico Madrid were left still searching for their first away win of the season after being held to a goalless draw by promoted Granada.

Although the match failed to produce any goals, there was plenty of entertainment for the fans at Los Carmenes stadium to enjoy and both sides will feel they could have come away with the victory.

The result means that third-bottom Granada could celebrate their fifth point of the campaign since returning to the top flight, while Atletico move onto nine points after what they will feel was another disappointing result.

Real Mallorca enjoyed a dramatic start to life under new coach Joaquin Caparros after snatching a 1-1 draw against Valencia with a last-minute penalty.

Valencia looked certain to claim all three points after taking the lead through Adil Rami in the 38th minute. But the home side refused to throw in the towel and were rewarded for their persistence in the dying moments when Mehmet Topal was penalised for handball.

Striker Tomer Hemed accepted responsibility for the spot-kick and calmly slotted into the bottom corner to delight the majority of the 15,000-strong crowd.

Getafe and Villarreal did little to improve their disappointing starts to the season with a dire goalless draw.

Villarreal looked the more dangerous after snuffing out the hosts' promising start, but both sides desperately lacked a cutting edge.

The draw left the two teams with still just a solitary win to their names so far this term.

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