The Argentine scored a pinpoint free kick to break the deadlock before adding a second just before half time to leave Barca in control.
Luis Suarez and Loren Moron then got on the scoresheet at either end in the second half before Messi completed his treble with an exquisite lob which led to even the home fans giving him a standing ovation and chanting his name as Barcelona moved 10 points clear.
Find out how another Messi masterclass unfolded courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates below.
We had a seven-goal thriller - and a shock result - in the reverse fixture, and hopefully we will be in for more of the same tonight too. Barcelona will be hoping that the result isn't the same, though, as they look to capitalise on Atletico Madrid's defeat yesterday to take another step towards the title by moving 10 points clear.
Kickoff is just five minutes away, so let's have a quick look at the team news...
SUBS: Robles, Emerson, Feddal, Kaptoum, Lainez, Leon, Loren
SUBS: Cillessen, Semedo, Coutinho, Malcom, Boateng, Alena, Umtiti
😍🐐 Today's game matches Leo #Messi with @andresiniesta8 for all-time appearances for Barça in official matches 👏 Congratulations! 👏 #BetisBarça pic.twitter.com/W7mdoYahOX— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 17, 2019
It is a lovely goal as Messi feeds the ball in to Suarez, who bides his time before returning the favour with a brilliant backheel into the path of the Argentine. Messi is the wrong side of the defence and pokes his finish past the keeper to double his tally and his side's lead!
Betis have more than played their part in an entertaining contest and if they get the next goal then they could well drag themselves back into the match, but for now it looks as though Barcelona will be going 10 points clear.
Barca won a free kick just outside the area and Messi picked out the top corner perfectly, leaving Pau Lopez no chance despite going on the goalkeeper's side. Ordinarily a goalkeeper should never be beaten on his side from a free kick, but this one was so good that it is hard to blame him.
The Uruguayan collected a pass from Messi before waiting for his strike partner to get into the box and then producing a superb back-heel into his path. From there Messi did the rest with a confident finish to significantly increase the size of Betis's task just before the interval.
The goal just before half time could be a killer for the home side, though, and it would take an almighty comeback for them to rescue anything from this game now. Another 4-3 anyone?
| 🎯 |
Most goals from direct free-kicks since the start of the 2011/12 season.
25 𝗟𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗲𝗹 𝗠𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗶
24 Real Madrid
21 Roma & Paris Saint-Germain
19 Liverpool pic.twitter.com/rN95LaXFxk— Eleven Sports (@ElevenSports_UK) March 17, 2019
An incredible performance from the Argentine fires Barcelona 10 points clear at the top of La Liga, and surely the title is all theirs now. Betis fought valiantly, and in the end the final score is probably harsh on them, but they came up against the greatest player of all time on top form tonight.
Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for tonight's match as Barcelona march on towards the title courtesy of a Messi masterclass against Betis. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too.
From me, though, it is goodbye for now!