Barcelona got off to a fast start and nearly scored in the 5th minute after Cesc Fabregas centered the ball into the Rayo area to Messi. The Argentinian was in a perfect position but his touch let him down (how often does that happen?) as he couldn't regain control off the ball and get a shot off despite having an empty net to shoot at after after Fabregas' run pulled Rubén out of position.
Two minutes later Messi came close again after earning a free kick, drawing a foul from Alejandro Gálvez in a dangerous spot. Messi's free kick was nearly perfect but hit off the bar and away from danger.
Adriano left the match in the 23rd minute, forcing Jordi Roura to bring on Dani Alves. Early reports say that Adriano suffered a minor hamstring injury and will miss two to three weeks.
Barcelona's first goal finally came in the 25th minute when Messi led a break from the midfield, moving just into the top of the Rayo area and drawing the attention of the two defenders who'd made it back. As the second defender stepped towards him and committed to a move, Messi sent a soft pass to David Villa who's run in behind the defender and El Guaje sent a lovely strike into the upper corner past Rubén.
Messi made it 2-0 for Barca in the 40th minute with a fairly simple, yet still lovely strike. David Villa's vision setup the play, finding Messi cutting to the left across the Rayo box. Villa's through ball to Messi was perfect as the Rayo defender couldn't recover fast enough to cut off Messi's angle and his shot cruised past Rubén.
It's Messi's 18th goal in 18 league games. Every time he scores he's breaking his own record. Just an amazing run of form.
José Manuel Pinto made an excellent save on a shot from distance by Piti in the 53rd minute. Several Rayo players were lurking and if there had been any rebound, it would have a goal for certain. Pinto started in place of Victor Valdés begins his four-match ban for aggressively confronting a referee after the last Clasico.
Four minutes later Barcelona added to their lead as Messi scored his second of the match. Barca countered off a Rayo corner as a long ball found Villa at midfield. The striker controlled the ball and held off a persistent challenge from a Rayo defender long enough to get a pass off to Messi who raced past the last defender, cut across the Rayo box and waited for Rubén to go down before sending a precisely controlled ship over the keeper.
Rayo scored a consolation goal in the 70th minute when Raúl Tamudo powered home a short-range effort off a Piti cross, reminding everyone of Barcelona's continued defensive vulnerabilities