Messi and David Villa combined to devastating effect to see off Rayo Vallecano and help Barcelona restore their 13-point lead at the top of La Liga tonight.
Rayo could not handle the partnership which accounted for all three goals - Messi netting twice after Villa had opened the scoring.
A Diego Costa double gave Atletico Madrid all three points over Osasuna at the Reyno de Navarra stadium to close the gap on Real Madrid in second place to one point.
The Brazilian scored the opening goal of the game towards the end of the first half and added the second three minutes into the second period, but was substituted before the end after injuring his ankle, leaving the pitch in visible pain.
Sevilla kept their faint hopes of achieving a Europa League place alive with a comfortable victory over Real Zaragoza.
Coke broke the deadlock midway through the first half before a red card to Stefan Babovic complicated things for the visitors, and the hosts romped to victory in the second period thanks to further goals by Coke, Jose Antonio Reyes and Alvaro Negredo.
Malaga dropped out of the top four in the Primera Division table for the first time in seven weeks after losing 2-0 to Espanyol at La Rosaleda.
Second half goals by Diego Colotto and Sergio Garcia gave the visitors all three points, despite having far less possession than their opponents and taking half as many shots.
Grenada shared the spoils in their home encounter with Levante as substitute Robert Acquafresca cancelled out Guilherme Siqueira's opening penalty for a 1-1 draw.