Lionel Messi netted his eighth brace of the season and created a third goal to steer Barcelona to a 3-1 win over a feisty Real Zaragoza on Saturday as the Spanish league leaders kept alive their club-record start.
Unbeaten Barcelona's 11th victory in 12 rounds opened an 11-point gap over Real Madrid and piled the pressure on the defending champions to keep pace later against Athletic Bilbao.
Messi started the scoring at Camp Nou Stadium in the 16th. After Zaragoza leveled through Paco Montanes in the 24th, Messi assisted Alex Song four minutes later to re-establish Barcelona's advantage for good before adding a third goal in the 60th.
The Argentina forward's latest double in league play took his competition-best tally to 17 goals, five more than Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.