BARCELONA, Spain — Lionel Messi scored his 400th and 401st goals for club and country and Neymar hit a hat trick as Barcelona thrashed Granada 6-0 in the Spanish league on Sept. 27.
Defending champion Atletico Madrid routed Sevilla 4-0 in the return of coach Diego Simeone, and Cristiano Ronaldo also found the net for his sixth straight game in Real Madrid’s 2-0 win at Villarreal.
Messi’s 358th goal for Barcelona (along with 42 for Argentina) came with Barcelona leading 3-0 when he headed in Dani Alves’ superb one-touch cross in the 56th minute.
He added No. 359 near the end to cap the lopsided win.
Neymar opened the scoring in the 25th before Messi continued his playmaking by participating in his fellow striker’s next two goals and assisting Ivan Rakitic.
The win gave Barcelona the provisional league lead. Valencia can match it on points with a win at Real Sociedad on Sunday.
Barcelona heads to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Sept. 30 with more than a finely tuned attack. Its defense hasn’t conceded a goal in seven games this season.
After an up-and-down season last year, Messi has returned in fine form from Argentina’s defeat in the World Cup final to Germany. The forward has scored or participated in 14 of Barcelona’s 18 goals in all competitions.
Already Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer, the 27-year-old Messi is closing in on two more milestones. He is three goals from equaling Athletic Bilbao’s Telmo Zarra as the Spanish league’s all-time leading scorer with 251. And he is four goals from matching Raul Gonzalez’s record of 71 in the Champions League.
“I don’t think that even counting the goals we scored during recess at school we would reach 400,” Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said. “Watching Leo press on defense and being so generous in attack is a pleasure.”
Also, Athletic Bilbao drew 0-0 at home with neighboring Basque club Eibar to remain winless in five straight games, while Leo Baptistao scored his second brace in four days to give Rayo Vallecano a 2-0 win at Levante.
Atletico moved into provisional second place two points behind Barcelona, before it hosts Juventus in the Champions League on Oct. 1.
Simeone coached his first league match of the season after being suspended for the first five matches, the last four for a vehement protest in the Spanish Super Cup. Striker Mario Mandzukic also returned from surgery on his broken nose with a protective face mask.
Midfielder Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion scored with a deflected strike in the 19th before Saul Niguez took the second goal near halftime from a precision set-piece that included three players touching the ball before he headed it in at the far post.
In the last 10 minutes, Raul Garcia converted a penalty after Diogo Rosario fouled Antoine Griezmann, and forward Raul Jimenez scored his first goal for Atletico, also from a set-piece.
Sevilla’s first loss left it in fourth.
At Camp Nou, Granada striker Youssef El Arabi hit the crossbar in the visitors’ first and best scoring chance in the seventh minute.
Joaquin Caparros’ team resisted well until midfielder Hector Yuste gifted the ball to Neymar whose shot took a deflection off defender Jean-Sylvain Babin and looped over goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez before bouncing into the net.
Messi set up the second goal by dribbling past two defenders before crossing for Rakitic to score with a glancing header in the 43rd.
Two minutes later, Messi’s through ball to Munir El Haddadi led to Roberto charging out to clear the ball, only for it to fall to Neymar who fired into the open net.
Messi found Neymar in the area to slot in his sixth league goal this season in the 66th before the Argentine scored for a second time.
Villarreal attacked Madrid early on at El Madrigal Stadium, as an airplane circled overhead trailing a banner asking Ronaldo to return to former club Manchester United.
But Luka Modric struck from long range in the 32nd, and Karim Benzema sprinted to win a long ball and set up Ronaldo for his league-leading 10th goal in the 40th.
Madrid remained in fifth place at four points adrift before it travels to Bulgaria to play Ludogorets in the Champions League on Oct. 1.