Lionel Messi
A Lionel Messi double helped Barcelona to a 3-0 win over Racing Santander. GOAL.COM

Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona eased to a straightforward 3-0 win over Racing Santander at the Nou Camp Saturday.

Messi helped the defending champions stay top, level on points with Levante and one point ahead of Real Madrid.

Barcelona dominated Racing from the start and the home side took the lead after just 11 minutes.

Messi combined with the returning Andres Iniesta before the Argentina international breezed past two Santander defenders before rounding the goalkeeper to slide the ball into an unguarded net.

The Racing defence struggled to contain a rampant Barcelona attack, as Messi went close soon after.

But they were powerless to prevent the European champions doubling their lead 15 minutes later, when a Pedro Rodriguez cross found an unmarked Xavi Hernandez four yards out.

The second half was a similar story and Racing were fortunate to only concede once more in a brutal 45 minutes of attacking football.

Predictably, it was Messi who grabbed the third, the forward was well-position to thrash home an Iniesta shot that rebounded back off the post.

Messi now has 196 goals for Barcelona in all competitions, moving him up into second place on the club career scoring list, with just Cesar Rodriguez with 235 ahead of him.

Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain netted his third hat-trick in four matches as Real hammered Betis 4-1 at the Bernabeu.

All five goals came in a frenetic second half as Madrid went ahead 30 seconds after the restart.

Marcelo's lofted through-ball found Cristiano Ronaldo down the inside left and his prod across the face of goal presented Higuain with a simple chance to net his first.

Ronaldo, making his 100th appearance for Madrid, was instrumental in the second goal, setting up Kaka on the edge of the area; the Brazil international curling a precise right-footed shot into the bottom right hand corner.

Jorge Molina pulled one back for Betis on 69 minutes but Higuain quickly extinguished any hopes of a comeback with a quick-fire double.