Martino lost for words for record-breaking Messi

The Argentine coach was left in awe as his compatriot broke Alfredo Di Stefano's Clasico goals record with a hat-trick in the 4-3 win over Real Madrid
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino has run out of compliments for Lionel Messi after the Argentine's hat-trick against Real Madrid on Sunday.

The Argentine star struck three times, including two second-half penalties, to lead his side to a 4-3 Clasico win at Santiago Bernabeu.

With his first goal, which came just before half-time to level the contest at 2-2, Messi became the all-time leading goalscorer in Clasico matches, surpassing former Real striker Alfredo Di Stefano.

Martino admits he had run out of superlatives for Messi, telling reporters: "I can hardly talk about Leo but there's no need. It's compliment after compliment.

"Today he breaks another record. I hope he gives me the match ball!"

Karim Benzema's first-half double gave Real a 2-1 lead after Andres Iniesta's opener, only for Messi to level before half-time.

Cristiano Ronaldo's controversial penalty 10 minutes after the break put Real ahead once more, only for the game to turn on 63 minutes.

Sergio Ramos denied Neymar a clear goalscoring opportunity and was sent off, with Messi dispatching that spot kick and another on 84 minutes.

Neymar was otherwise ineffective but Martino insists he produced the moment that mattered.

"Neymar's only 21 but it all happened with him. Ramos was sent off through his phenomenal diagonal run," Martino said.

Barca are a point behind La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid (70 points), while Real are on the same number of points as their city rivals but behind based on their head-to-head record.

Martino, who claimed prior to the match this was his side's "last chance" of defending their title, admits his team are right back in the race.

"The league begins again," he said.

"But it doesn't change my perception that beyond El Clasico, it's just one game."