LIONEL MESSI played so well last night he got a standing ovation from opposition fans.
The Barcelona maestro, 31, scored an incredible hat-trick to inspire his side to a 4-1 win at the Benito Villamarin.
In-form Messi opened the scoring with a brilliant free-kick, which the Real Betis wall – and the man lying behind it – could do nothing about.
He then bagged a second after being released by Luis Suarez, who later got himself on the scoresheet.
But it was Messi’s third that really captured the imagination of everybody present.
The Argie was found by Ivan Rakitic on the edge of the box and produced a ridiculous chip which found the far corner via a slight tough off the crossbar.
After his brilliant effort, Betis fans rose to their feet to applaud the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
While team-mate Clement Lenglet and Betis ace Marc Bartra – a Barca academy graduate – stood with their hands on their heads in disbelief.
Most read in football
After the game, Messi told Movistar Partidazo. “I don’t remember (a rival player being applauded like that) and I’m very grateful with the reaction of the fans.
“Every time we come to this stadium, they treat us really well. Very grateful and happy for the win, which was very important.”