Baku. 4 March. REPORT.AZ/ Lionel Messi scored a hat trick as Barcelona defeated nine-man Rayo Vallecano 5-1 to become the first Spanish club to play 35 consecutive matches without a loss, breaking Real Madrid's record of nearly three decades ago.
Midfielder Ivan Rakitic opened the scoring, Messi added the second, third and fourth goals, and Arda Turan topped it off late.
Two Rayo players were sent off for straight red cards: Diego Llorente when the hosts were 2-0 behind, and Manuel Iturra at 3-1 down. Barcelona striker Luis Suarez missed a penalty kick with his team up 3-1.
It was Barcelona's 10th win in a row in the Spanish league, keeping it eight points ahead of second-place Atletico Madrid, which defeated Real Sociedad 3-0 on Tuesday.
Real Madrid remained 12 points behind after defeating last-place Levante 3-1 on Wednesday.
Real Madrid's record of 34 successive unbeaten games was set in 1989 under coach Leo Beenhakker and with players such as Emilio Butragueno and Hugo Sanchez.
Arda Turan slides into a challenge and there was a moment of hilarity as the referee accidentally pulls out the red card before quickly putting it back in his pocket and producing the yellow.