Messi opened the scoring after 23 minutes and minutes later Villa found the net to virtually ascertain all three points for the Spanish champions in Madrid.
Pedro added his name on the scoresheet midway through the second period before Manu pulled one back from the penalty spot. Gerard Pique and Derek Boateng saw red for Barca and Getafe respectively in a hugely entertaining second 45 minutes.
Things, though, started awkwardly for Barca as Getafe made the first move of the match. It came as early as the third minute when Francisco Casquero advanced into the Barcelona penalty box from the right but failed to get a proper shot on target.
Thereafter it was all one-way traffic as the Spanish champions began to butcher Getafe’s midfield and attack piece by piece. First Villa, released by a brilliant pass from Andres Iniesta, couldn’t keep his shot on target despite sending goalkeeper Jordi Codina the wrong way and then Messi saw his shot blocked by the hosts’ custodian.
However, it was the Argentina international who eventually broke the deadlock midway through the first-half. Villa controlled the ball superbly near the penalty spot and after hoodwinking his markers with a turn and drawing defenders closer to him, played an overlapping Messi on the right who slotted home from an acute angle.
It could have been 2-0 to Pep Guardiola’s side just minutes later had Villa not missed a Daniel Alves cross from the right wing. Before long the Spain international striker saw his close-range shot saved by Codina.
Villa and Messi then combined for a one-two on 33 minutes with the latter tapping in the ball from close range but it was ruled out for offside on Villa’s part.
Barca, though, finally got their second goal against Getafe and did so just a couple of minutes later. Released by Messi on the right side of the box, Villa struck home with a low drive to put the Blaugrana 2-0 up at the break.
After the half-time breather Michel’s side looked very bright and enthusiastic. Manu was very sharp with his crosses from the left wing in the opening minutes of the second session but Pique was strong at the back and incepted his ball for Miku on 50 minutes.
Manu was again at the heart of another chance that Getafe created four minutes later when he ran with the ball but was disappointing with the cross that Victor Valdes saved with ease. Boateng then came close with a header.
But for all of Getafe’s pressure, the Madrid-based side eventually conceded the third goal midway through the half. Daniel Diaz failed to control a simple pass from Codina in front of his own penalty area and picking the ball after it had bounced off Messi, Pedro slotted it home from close range.
However, Pique was sent off four minutes later for handling a Pedro Rios cross inside the Barca penalty and Manu successfully converted the resulting penalty.
The match became even more entertaining as there was end-to-end action, with Iniesta and Juan Albin going close for Barca and Getafe respectively and then Maxwell clearing a Javier Arizmendi header from the goalline.
However, the hosts were reduced to ten men after 80 minutes when Boateng was booked for the second time in the match for a foul on Javier Mascherano.
The two sides continued to play frenetic, entertaining and attacking football so typical of La Liga, with Arizmendi missing an easy chance and Messi watching his shot blocked by Codina.
The 3-1 victory means that Barcelona have leapfrogged Madrid into pole position for the time being while Getafe remain close to the relegation zone.