Dec 30, 2015 at 7.30pm UK at ‚ÄčCamp Nou
Barcelona
4-0
Real Betis
Westermann (29' og.), Messi (33'), Suarez (47', 83')
Alves (77')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Manuel Vargas (27'), Petros (30'), Pezzella (68')

Result: Lionel Messi scores on 500th appearance to help Barcelona past Real Betis

Lionel Messi marks his 500th Barcelona appearance with a goal to help his side back to the top of La Liga with a 4-0 victory over Real Betis.

Lionel Messi marked his 500th Barcelona appearance with a goal as Luis Enrique's side returned to the top of La Liga with a 4-0 victory over Real Betis this evening.

The Catalan giants responded to wins from Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid earlier in the day, with their four goals making it 180 in 2015 - the most ever managed by a Spanish club in a calendar year.

Barcelona players celebrate the first goal during the game with Real Betis on December 30, 2015© AFP

The first chance of the match actually fell the way of Betis as Dani Alves was forced into a last-ditch challenge to deny Dani Ceballos before Neymar sent a header straight at Adan moments later.

The opening goal arrived shortly before the half-hour mark when Adan was harshly penalised for clattering into Messi while coming to claim a cross, and the hosts were given another helping hand as Heiko Westermann got the final touch to put the rebound into his own net after Neymar had slipped and hit the crossbar from the initial penalty.

Neymar kicks a penalty during the game between Barcelona and Real Betis on December 30, 2015© AFP

Betis boss Pepe Mel was sent to the stands for his protests against the penalty, and things got even worse for his side when Barca doubled their advantage less than five minutes later.

It was Messi's turn to adorn his landmark appearance with a goal, lending the ball to Neymar before getting in the box and applying a simple finish to the Brazilian's return pass.

It should have been three before the half was out too, but Luis Suarez could not squeeze the ball in from a tight angle having been played clean through on goal and rounding the Betis keeper.

Suarez did get his name on the scoresheet in the opening minutes of the second half, however, rolling a finish into the bottom corner after Sergio Busquets had won the ball on the edge of the Betis box.

Luis Suarez celebrates scoring during the game between Barcelona and Real Betis on December 30, 2015© Getty Images

The chances continued to arrive for Barca, and they came within inches of adding to their lead when Neymar hit the post before Messi saw an effort saved by Adan seconds later.

The woodwork came to the visitors' rescue on three more occasions during a five-minute spell as Messi twice struck the crossbar with free kicks and Alves saw an attempted chip beat the keeper but come back off the frame of the goal.

Betis could have pulled one back with nine minutes remaining when German Pezzella met Ricky van Wolfswinkel's header, only to blaze the ball over the top from close range.

Barca's fourth arrived shortly after that, and it was a second for Suarez as he combined with Neymar before finishing from close range to well and truly put the game to bed.

The result means that the Catalan giants will end 2015 top of the table, while Betis are now winless in five in all competitions.

Dani Alves for Barcelona on February 1, 2015
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Barcelona98102632325
2Valencia963025101521
3Real Madrid8521157817
4Atletico MadridAtletico8440135816
5Real Betis95131917216
6Sevilla951398116
7Leganes842273414
8Real Sociedad84131917213
9Villarreal84131110113
10Celta Vigo83231813511
11Athletic Bilbao8323109111
12Levante9252911-211
13Getafe9234111019
14Espanyol8233711-49
15Deportivo La CorunaDeportivo8224916-78
16EibarEibar8215317-147
17GironaGirona8134713-66
18Las PalmasLas Palmas8206718-116
19AlavesAlaves9108314-113
20Malaga9018420-161
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