Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona prepared for Tuesday's Champions League trip to Manchester City by returning to the top of La Liga with a stylish win over Rayo Vallecano.

Left-back Adriano curled in the opener before Argentina's Messi lobbed in.

Alexis Sanchez latched onto Messi's pass to score after the break before Pedro converted a slick move.

Messi scored his second from 15 yards before substitute Neymar scored from long range on his return from injury.

La Liga goal-scorers

  • Telmo Zarra - 251 goals in 277 games
  • Hugo Sanchez - 234 goals in 347 games
  • Raul - 228 goals in 550 games
  • Lionel Messi - 228 goals in 263
  • Alfredo Di Stefano - 227 goals in 329 games

The four-time world football of the year went above former Real Madrid striker and compatriot Alfredo Di Stefano in La Liga goal-scoring history, and his 228 goals in 263 games takes him joint third in the all-time league goal-scoring charts with ex-Real Madrid striker Raul.

He has now scored five goals in three games for the defending La Liga champions and looks to be returning to top form, after an injury-hit season, ahead of their last 16 Champions League meeting with Manchester City in midweek.

Barcelona also look to be hitting form at the right time as they dispatched struggling Rayo Vallecano with ultimate ease to return to the La Liga summit.

Atletico Madrid's 3-0 win over Real Valladolid earlier in the day had temporarily put them top but Barca moved back ahead of Diego Simeone's men on goal difference.

Real Madrid can move back level on points with both their rivals with victory at Getafe on Sunday.

Did you know?

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 155 La Liga goals in 140 appearances.

Adriano got Barcelona off to the perfect start when he curled home the opener inside two minutes, before Messi and Pedro struck the post.

A sublime lob from Messi doubled Barca's lead before half-time and he then teed up Alexis Sanchez to calmly make it three after the break.

A brilliant backheel from Andres Iniesta then freed Cesc Fabregas inside the area and he unselfishly squared for Pedro to slot home from close range.

Messi scored his second as he slotted Sanchez's pass into the far corner, before substitute Neymar fired a stunning 25-yard strike into the top corner in his first game in three weeks.

Lineup, Bookings (0) & Substitutions (6)

Barcelona

  • 01 Valdés
  • 22 Dani Alves
  • 21 Adriano
  • 16 Busquets
  • 03 Piqué
  • 05 Puyol (Mascherano - 68' )
  • 04 Fábregas
  • 08 Iniesta
  • 10 Messi (Tello - 74' )
  • 09 Sánchez
  • 07 Pedro (Neymar - 62' )

Substitutes

  • 11 Neymar
  • 13 Pinto Colorado
  • 14 Mascherano
  • 17 Song
  • 18 Alba
  • 19 Afellay
  • 20 Tello

Rayo Vallecano

  • 13 Martínez
  • 21 Arbilla (Román Triguero - 42' )
  • 26 Mojica
  • 10 Trashorras
  • 18 Rosa Vale Castro
  • 22 Ñíguez
  • 16 Rochina
  • 04 Baena
  • 20 Larrivey (Longo - 73' )
  • 23 Bueno (Viera Ramos - 62' )
  • 24 Falqué

Substitutes

  • 01 Cobeño
  • 02 Román Triguero
  • 07 Bangoura
  • 08 González Morales
  • 12 Longo
  • 17 Galeano
  • 19 Viera Ramos
Ref: Juan Martínez Munuera
Att: 74,517

Match Stats

Shots

21 9

On target

10 4

Corners

12 5

Fouls

6 10

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Barcelona 6, Rayo Vallecano 0.

90:00 +1:58 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Barcelona 6, Rayo Vallecano 0.

90:00 +0:24

Attempt missed. Jonathan Viera (Rayo Vallecano) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Johan Mojica.

88:14 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Barcelona 6, Rayo Vallecano 0. Neymar (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Andrés Iniesta.

87:22

Offside, Rayo Vallecano. Rubén Rochina tries a through ball, but Roberto Trashorras is caught offside.

86:24

Attempt missed. Adriano (Barcelona) left footed shot from the left side of the box is too high. Assisted by Cristian Tello.

84:47

Dani Alves (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

84:47

Foul by Johan Mojica (Rayo Vallecano).

83:53

Attempt saved. Rubén Rochina (Rayo Vallecano) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Raúl Baena.

83:11

Corner, Rayo Vallecano. Conceded by Dani Alves.

81:52

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Saúl Ñíguez.

81:13

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Saúl Ñíguez.

76:04

Foul by Dani Alves (Barcelona).

76:04

Jonathan Viera (Rayo Vallecano) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

75:23

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Zé Castro.

75:22

Attempt blocked. Francesc Fábregas (Barcelona) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez.

73:49 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Barcelona. Cristian Tello replaces Lionel Messi.

73:05

Attempt missed. Rubén Rochina (Rayo Vallecano) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Iago Falqué.

72:15 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Rayo Vallecano. Samuele Longo replaces Joaquín Larrivey.

71:48

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Saúl Ñíguez.

68:53

Foul by Francesc Fábregas (Barcelona).

68:53

Roberto Trashorras (Rayo Vallecano) wins a free kick on the left wing.

68:32

Foul by Francesc Fábregas (Barcelona).

68:32

Jonathan Viera (Rayo Vallecano) wins a free kick on the left wing.

67:49 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Barcelona. Javier Mascherano replaces Carles Puyol.

67:05 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Barcelona 5, Rayo Vallecano 0. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez.

66:19

Attempt missed. Dani Alves (Barcelona) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Neymar.

64:48

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Tito.

63:12

Attempt missed. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Andrés Iniesta.

62:20

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Johan Mojica.

61:47 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Barcelona. Neymar replaces Pedro.

61:28 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Rayo Vallecano. Jonathan Viera replaces Alberto Bueno.

61:09

Foul by Pedro (Barcelona).

61:09

Roberto Trashorras (Rayo Vallecano) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

60:54

Attempt saved. Dani Alves (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

60:19

Attempt blocked. Pedro (Barcelona) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Sergio Busquets.

59:55

Attempt missed. Joaquín Larrivey (Rayo Vallecano) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Iago Falqué.

58:50

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Zé Castro.

55:30 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Barcelona 4, Rayo Vallecano 0. Pedro (Barcelona) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Francesc Fábregas.

53:51

Corner, Rayo Vallecano. Conceded by Víctor Valdés.

53:49

Attempt saved. Joaquín Larrivey (Rayo Vallecano) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Iago Falqué.

52:04 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Barcelona 3, Rayo Vallecano 0. Alexis Sánchez (Barcelona) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Lionel Messi following a fast break.

50:16

Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

50:16

Foul by Rubén Rochina (Rayo Vallecano).

49:27

Alexis Sánchez (Barcelona) wins a free kick on the right wing.

49:27

Foul by Johan Mojica (Rayo Vallecano).

48:34

Attempt missed. Joaquín Larrivey (Rayo Vallecano) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Johan Mojica with a cross.

45:00

Second Half begins Barcelona 2, Rayo Vallecano 0.

45:00 +0:30 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Barcelona 2, Rayo Vallecano 0.

41:54

Foul by Francesc Fábregas (Barcelona).

41:54

Raúl Baena (Rayo Vallecano) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

41:03 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Rayo Vallecano. Tito replaces Anaitz Arbilla.

38:30

Alexis Sánchez (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

38:30

Foul by Johan Mojica (Rayo Vallecano).

36:58

Francesc Fábregas (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

36:58

Foul by Joaquín Larrivey (Rayo Vallecano).

35:38 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Barcelona 2, Rayo Vallecano 0. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Francesc Fábregas with a through ball.

34:35

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Saúl Ñíguez.

34:34

Attempt blocked. Gerard Piqué (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Andrés Iniesta.

31:37

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Rubén Martínez.

31:36

Attempt saved. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Dani Alves with a headed pass.

30:51

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Rubén Martínez.

30:50

Attempt saved. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Adriano.

29:21

Foul by Francesc Fábregas (Barcelona).

29:21

Rubén Rochina (Rayo Vallecano) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

28:42

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Saúl Ñíguez.

26:40

Sergio Busquets (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

26:40

Foul by Saúl Ñíguez (Rayo Vallecano).

26:09

Corner, Rayo Vallecano. Conceded by Gerard Piqué.

26:07

Attempt saved. Iago Falqué (Rayo Vallecano) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

25:17

Corner, Rayo Vallecano. Conceded by Gerard Piqué.

25:16

Attempt blocked. Rubén Rochina (Rayo Vallecano) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Raúl Baena.

22:02

Attempt missed. Francesc Fábregas (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

19:54

Attempt missed. Dani Alves (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right following a set piece situation.

19:51

Attempt blocked. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

18:59

Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

18:59

Foul by Saúl Ñíguez (Rayo Vallecano).

18:02

Offside, Barcelona. Víctor Valdés tries a through ball, but Pedro is caught offside.

17:42

Pedro (Barcelona) hits the left post with a left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left. Assisted by Andrés Iniesta.

16:08

Offside, Barcelona. Francesc Fábregas tries a through ball, but Dani Alves is caught offside.

14:45

Sergio Busquets (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

14:45

Foul by Alberto Bueno (Rayo Vallecano).

13:46

Offside, Rayo Vallecano. Iago Falqué tries a through ball, but Joaquín Larrivey is caught offside.

13:11

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) hits the right post with a right footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Francesc Fábregas.

11:17

Corner, Rayo Vallecano. Conceded by Carles Puyol.

9:02

Attempt missed. Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona) right footed shot from more than 35 yards is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Sergio Busquets with a headed pass.

8:08

Offside, Barcelona. Francesc Fábregas tries a through ball, but Pedro is caught offside.

4:59

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Roberto Trashorras.

4:17

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

4:17

Foul by Zé Castro (Rayo Vallecano).

3:47

Francesc Fábregas (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

3:47

Foul by Iago Falqué (Rayo Vallecano).

3:26

Attempt saved. Iago Falqué (Rayo Vallecano) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Roberto Trashorras.

2:56

Offside, Rayo Vallecano. Johan Mojica tries a through ball, but Iago Falqué is caught offside.

1:36 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Barcelona 1, Rayo Vallecano 0. Adriano (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Pedro.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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