A superb Lionel Messi hat trick gave Barcelona a 3-1 win over ten-man Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their last 16 Copa del Rey tie. The Argentine forward, playing for the first time since the Christmas break, also hit the crossbar and many of the Atletico fans stood and applauded him when he was replaced near the end.

Barcelona made most of the early running at a chilly Vicente Calderon despite resting key players from the team who beat Real Mallorca at the weekend, including Xavi and Samuel Eto'o. A deft piece of skill from Daniel Alves unlocked the Atletico defence for Messi's opening goal on 12 minutes. The Argentine international played the ball inside and Alves sent a clever backheel through for him to run on to and place a low shot past Gregory Coupet.

Atletico had to play with ten men for most of the second half after defender John Heitinga felled Messi in the penalty area as he was racing to meet an Alves cross. The referee showed the Dutchman a red card and Messi sent Coupet the wrong way to double Barca's lead before substitute Tomas Ujfalusi pulled a goal back just over 10 minutes later with a header from Simao Sabrosa's corner.

Messi completed his hat-trick on 80 minutes when he picked the ball up in the area, wrong-footed Coupet and lifted the ball into the roof of the net. Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said his side, who lead the Primera Liga by 11 points, had made a big step towards the quarter final ahead of next week's second leg.

The second legs take place on 14 and 15 January.

Atletico Madrid 1 - 3 Barcelona Highlights


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