Messi was the star of the show at the Camp Nou with a magnificent treble, as Barca stretched their lead at the top to 12 points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid’s derby against Real Madrid on Sunday.“This unbeaten record has not only been achieved this season, but also last year under (former coach) Luis Enrique,” said Barca coach Valverde.“It’s a shared record, because it crossed over between seasons. It has been quite difficult, because of the fact it’s an old record that hasn’t been broken for a long time.”Valverde named a strong side despite having a Champions League quarter-final, second leg on Tuesday at Roma, with Messi, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho all starting.Suarez passed up two good early chances to put Barca ahead, prodding wide and then seeing visiting goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar deny him with an excellent save.But the hosts moved in front in the 27th minute through a trademark Messi free-kick.The Argentinian stepped up and curled the ball over the ball and into the bottom corner from 25 yards out to score his 27th league goal of the season.It didn’t take the 30-year-old long to double his tally for the day, latching onto Coutinho’s through ball and firing low into the corner.Barcelona eased off in the second half, perhaps with the midweek clash at the Stadio Olimpico on their minds, and Leganes hit back midway through the second half.Former Liverpool winger Nabil El Zhar cut inside and fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the box despite slipping as he shot.But the home side finished off the match as a contest late on with Messi completing his third hat-trick of the season in style.The five-time Ballon d’Or winner chested down Ousmane Dembele’s pass and dinked the ball over Cuellar with consummate ease.“To score goals is always good. We think that Messi has to stay active and he avoids any muscular problems,” added Valverde.“He’s doing well and we saw that tonight. Looking forward to the next matches, the way he played is good news for us.”Barca will now turn their attentions to avoiding a disaster in Italy as they defend a 4-1 first-leg lead, still bidding to complete the treble with a Copa del Rey final against Sevilla to come in a fortnight’s time.Earlier on Saturday, Sevilla’s hopes of qualifying for Europe next season took a hit with a 4-0 thumping at Celta Vigo.Vincenzo Montella’s side were taken apart by former striker Iago Aspas’ hat-trick, as the ex-Liverpool man strengthened his claim for a place in Spain’s World Cup squad.Sevilla face Bayern Munich on Wednesday’s at the Allianz Arena needing to overturn a 2-1 deficit to reach the Champions League semi-finals.Real Betis moved up to fifth with a fourth straight win as they saw off Eibar 2-0, while Alaves all but secured safety by beating Getafe.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Lionel Messi scored his third hat-trick of the season as Barcelona equalled the longest unbeaten run in La Liga © AFP / Josep LAGOMADRID, Spain, Apr 7 – Barcelona equalled the record longest unbeaten run in La Liga history as a Lionel Messi hat-trick inspired the runaway leaders to a 3-1 win over Leganes on Saturday to make it 38 league games unbeaten.The Catalan giants will look to break the record that Real Sociedad set in 1979-80 when they host Valencia next weekend, with Ernesto Valverde’s side now just seven matches from becoming the first La Liga side to go through a campaign without tasting defeat.
“Our opinion should by no means be read to imply that the General Assembly may not grant and recognize for homosexual persons civil unions or the right to marry a person of the same sex,” Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. wrote for the majority. Plaintiffs said that the judges missed a historic opportunity to strike down a discriminatory law. Legislators on both sides of the debate predicted action on the issue in the next session. The heavily Democratic Legislature has passed several gay-rights laws in recent years but has not voted on legalizing same-sex marriage or civil unions. “I think history will hold them in contempt,” plaintiff Lisa Polyak said of the judges. “To create a legal solution in a vacuum, that doesn’t recognize that the constitution is there to support the people, is to create an ignorant and irrelevant solution.” State Sen. Richard Madaleno, who is openly gay, said he plans to introduce a bill to allow same-sex marriage. He also expects a proposal to create civil unions. “I think we’ll have a lengthy discussion next session about what the options are for legal recognition for gay people,” Madaleno said. By Ben Nuckols THE ASSOCIATED PRESS BALTIMORE – Plaintiffs vowed to take the fight over gay marriage in Maryland to the Legislature after the state’s highest court threw out a suit challenging a law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. In a 4-3 decision, the Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s 1973 ban on gay marriage does not discriminate on the basis of gender and does not deny any fundamental rights guaranteed by the state constitution. The court also found that the state has a legitimate interest in promoting opposite-sex marriage. Don Dwyer, one of the General Assembly’s most conservative members, said he would introduce a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage as “insurance.” The ACLU of Maryland, which provided legal representation for the plaintiffs, said the fight to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland would continue. Many of the plaintiffs have children, and they argue that their families are being denied the stability and legal protection that comes from having married parents. Lisa Kebreau, 39, and partner Mikki Mozelle, 31, who live in Riverdale, have three children – ages 20 months, 2 and 17. “We really wanted them to understand how normal and good their family is – that their family is just like any other family,” Kebreau said. Nine same-sex couples and a gay man whose partner died filed the lawsuit in 2004 against court clerks who denied their applications for marriage licenses. Baltimore Circuit Judge M. Brooke Murdock in January struck down the law defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, but the state immediately appealed. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!