Madrid, Spain (Sports Network) - Lionel Messi had his third straight strong performance for Barcelona - following up a three goals in two games performance last week - scoring two goals while contributing numerous other spectacular plays in a 4-1 victory over Real Zaragoza in La Liga action Wednesday.
The 20-year-old Argentinean took over for the supposedly injured Ronaldinho as the team's top offensive player while Andres Iniesta and Rafael Marquez also added goals for the home side. Alberto Zapater scored the lone goal for the overmatched visitors.
Messi got the scoring started just five minutes in when he worked a give-and- go with Thierry Henry at the top of the box before blasting the return pass past a diving Sanchez Cesar to make it 1-0.
Zaragoza equalized just four minutes later when Zapater took a pass on the right side of the box and blasted a laser into the left side netting.
That was the high point for the visitors, however, because Messi got the game- winner and his second goal of the game just two minutes later when he found a loose ball in the area and blasted it past Cesar to make it 2-1.
Messi was involved in his team's third goal in the 21st minute when he worked a one-two with Deco at the top of the box before touching a through-ball into the six-yard box to spring the midfielder. Deco then touched a pass to the far post, giving Iniesta an easy tap-in for his first league goal of the season.
Marquez headed in a rebound of a Deco free kick in first-half stoppage time to close out the scoring.
With the win, Barcelona climbs to third in the La Liga table, behind leaders Villarreal and Valencia, which are a point up.
Also Wednesday, Villarreal moved to the top of the table for the first time in their history with a 2-0 away win over Racing Santander, Valencia beat Getafe 2-1 in the Mestalla, Almeria earned a 1-0 victory over Real Murcia, Mallorca toped Real Valladolid 4-2, Osasuna dominated last-placed Levante 4-1 and Recreativo and Atletico Madrid earned 2-0 victories over Deportivo and Athletic Bilbao, respectively.
Champions Real Madrid have 10 points from four games in fourth place and host Real Betis at the Bernabeu on Thursday.