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European football round-up: Messi hat-trick keeps Barcelona on top

Primera Liga champions hold off resurgent Valencia in 3-2 win. Plus news from other parts of Europe.

Lionel Messi, left, was back to his best after a sluggish start to the new season. Manuel Queimadelos Alonso / Getty Images
Lionel Messi, left, was back to his best after a sluggish start to the new season. Manuel Queimadelos Alonso / Getty Images

MADRID // A first-half hat-trick by Lionel Messi ensured Barcelona maintained their 100 per cent start to their Primera Liga season with a thrilling 3-2 win over Valencia as Real Madrid also made it three wins from three games on Sunday.

Messi had looked far from his best in Barca's Super Cup victory over Atletico Madrid in midweek, but looked more like his old self as he put Barca 2-0 up inside 39 minutes and was then brilliantly set up by Neymar to complete his hat-trick.

However, Valencia were amazingly back in the game by half-time as Helder Postiga struck twice in first-half stoppage time.

Barca then passed up a host of chances to put the game to bed in the second-half and were nearly punished when Jonas struck the post four minutes from time.

"It is a difficult place to come for the players they have, the atmosphere and the intensity," Andres Iniesta told Canal Plus afterwards.

"We practically dominated the first-half for 44 minutes, were winning 3-0 and then we let them back into it.

"It is a question of improving. We are still at the start of the season and it is logical that the team has more to give."

Neymar had already had a goal ruled out for offside when Cesc Fabregas sprung Valencia's high line with a fine through ball on 10 minutes and Messi evaded challenge from Adil Rami and Diego Alves to bundle home from close range.

Victor Valdes was then forced into a fine save to deny Dorlan Pabon levelling on his debut for Los Che.

But just when it appeared Valencia were in control of the game, Barca struck twice in two minutes.

Firstly, Sergio Busquets robbed the ball in midfield to allow Fabregas to set Messi free again to roll into the far corner.

And then a wonderful piece of individual skill from Neymar teed-up the Argentine to side foot home his 23rd hat-trick for the Catalans.

Valencia responded wonderfully though and were back in the game before half-time thanks to Postiga's double.

The Portuguese firstly produced a stunning overhead kick to turn Joao Pereira's cross into the top corner.

And moments later the former Spurs man rose highest to flick home Ever Banega's corner.

The frantic pace continued after the break as Messi forced Alves into a stunning save from the edge of the area before Pedro somehow managed to head wide from Iniesta's cross from point-blank range.

Messi was next to let Valencia off the hook as he unbelievably pulled his shot wide after more great work from Neymar and Jordi Alba down the left and then fired straight at Alves when clean through on goal.

And the champions were nearly made to pay for their profligacy as Jonas' curling effort from the edge of the area was brilliantly turned onto the post by Valdes.

Atletico Madrid also maintained their perfect start to the campaign with a 2-1 win away at Real Sociedad.

David Villa and Koke scored either side of half-time to put Diego Simeone's men in charge.

However, the visitors were thankful to Thibaut Courtois for the three points as the Belgian produced two stunning saves after Xabi Prieto had reduced Sociedad's arrears 22 minutes from time.

And on a night filled with goals, Sevilla and Malaga played out a 2-2 draw in the first Andalusian derby of the season.

Pedro Morales and Roque Santa Cruz twice put Malaga in front, but French international Kevin Gameiro levelled on both occasions with his first goals for Sevilla since joining from PSG.

Milan continue momentum

AC Milan put a surprise opening loss to Hellas Verona behind them as they beat Cagliari 3-1 in their first Serie A home match of the season.

Milan's 2-1 away defeat on the first weekend of the campaign was a jolt to Massimiliano Allegri's team, but they responded in the right way seven days down the line at the San Siro.

Robinho put Milan in front after eight minutes, Philippe Mexes added a second on the half-hour mark and Mario Balotelli netted the third after 62 minutes.

Shortly after Mexes scored, Cagliari reduced their deficit through Marco Sau but they were finished off by Balotelli, who also had a hand in the opening two goals from the home side.

Inter Milan continue to show signs of revival under new coach Walter Mazzarri after cruising to an impressive 3-0 win at Catania.

The Nerazzurri finished a dismal ninth last season but, under the supervision of former Napoli manager Mazzarri, claimed a regulation victory over Genoa on the opening day of the new campaign.

Porto win again

Porto, the reigning Portuguese Primeira Liga champions, made it three wins from three by beating Pacos de Ferreira 1-0.

With time running out at the Estadio da Mata Real, Jackson Martinez made the breakthrough in the 76th minute to ensure Porto kept their 100 per cent record in tact.

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