|Messi headed home his 26th goal of the season, putting him at the top of the Spanish scoring charts [GALLO/GETTY]
Lionel Messi was in usual blistering form as Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 win over Mallorca at the Iberostar Stadium in Spain’s Primera Division on Saturday.
Goals from Messi, David Villa and Pedro Rodriguez broke the Spanish champion’s recent dip in form, despite missing key players Xavi Hernandez, Carles Puyol, Daniel Alves and Victor Valdes through injury.
The Catalan side had not been at their best in recent weeks as they lost to English side Arsenal in the Champions League and then struggled to beat Athletic Bilbao.
Earlier, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla missed a chance to breathe life into their European qualification hopes when they drew 2-2 at the Calderon.
Mallorca coach Michael Laudrup played for Barcelona in the 1990s with the Catalan club's current coach Pep Guardiola and Barca had never beaten a Primera Division team coached by the former Danish international, who also had a stint in charge at Getafe.
In their previous meeting, the teams drew 1-1 at the Nou Camp in October, one of only three matches in which Barca have dropped points this season.
Laudrup's players made a good job of closing their opponents down in the early stages before Messi headed home his league-leading 26th goal in the 38th minute, putting him two clear of Real forward Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the scoring chart.
Seydou Keita scooped into the area for the Argentina forward, who headed the pass forward before using his head again to guide over goalkeeper Dudu Aouate for his 42nd goal of the season.
Villa reached Sergio Busquets' well-played long-ball before Aouate and after rounding the Israel goalkeeper rolled home his 17th of the season.
Pedro's 13th goal was a long-range shot in the 66th that dipped over Aouate into the top of goal.
Barcelona are now unbeaten in their last 19 away matches, equalling a record set by Basque club Real Sociedad in their 1979-80 campaign.
Earlier, Atletico Madrid drew 2-2 with Sevilla.
Both clubs had been touted as possible challengers to the domination of Barca and Real in Spain's top flight but erratic recent form had pushed them out of the European places.
Atletico twice came from behind to salvage a point at the Calderon, but the draw will do little to ease the pressure on coach Quique Sanchez Flores.
Espanyol climbed above Athletic Bilbao into fifth when they thumped visiting Real Sociedad 4-1, while strugglers Sporting Gijon and Real Zaragoza drew 0-0.
Espanyol have 40 points from 25 matches, two ahead of Bilbao who host third-placed Valencia, with 48 points, on Sunday. Sevilla have 35 in seventh and Atletico 34 in eighth.