The FIFA World Player of the Year continued to grab the plaudits yesterday with a typically irresistible hat-trick as Barcelona thumped La Liga strugglers Tenerife 5-0. The Catalans remain top of the pile in Spain, two points ahead of rivals Real Madrid. England fans, with recent history in mind, will be hoping Messi can't reproduce such magic with Argentina this summer...
The African Nations may have been grabbing the headlines for all the wrong reasons over the weekend, but Mali certainly did their upmost to let their football do the talking, coming from four goals down to grab a 4-4 draw with hosts Angola.
Manchester United keeper Tomasz Kuszczak was again in fine form to deny Birmingham City a first victory over the champions in 32 years. The Polish international has made the position his own this season in the absence of Edwin Van der Sar and given the current vulnerability of United's back four will be crucial if they are to again pip their rivals to the title.
Sir Alex Ferguson was once again berating the officials last night following referee Mark Clattenburg's decision to send off Darren Fletcher during his side's draw with this season's surprise package, Birmingham City. Mr Clattenburg produced what seemed a harsh second yellow card for Fletcher, putting a dent in United's aspirations to return to the top of the Premier League table.
Beckford quite possibly holds the mantle for the ultimate example of the transition from hero to villain. A week ago he scored the winning goal for his Leeds United side during a famous FA Cup victory over Manchester United, but sadly he has since handed in a transfer request and seemingly upset the apple cart at Elland Road. Fans certainly aren't impressed. Beckford was controversially included in the starting line-up on Saturday, as the League One leaders stumbled to a disappointing 1-1 draw with lowly Wycombe Wanderers.
- Gareth Burton for Football.co.uk