Messi hat-trick as Barca ease past Espanyol

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as Barcelona thrashed Espanyol 5-0 the Nou Camp on Friday.

Messi opened his account in the 26th minute before adding a second on 35 minutes.

The Argentine added a third on 67 minutes ahead of Gerard Pique's 87th minute goal and a 90th minute effort from Luis Suarez.

Gerard Deulofeu was crowded out before Messi fired over in an explosive start for Barca.

Suarez was unable to direct a 15th minute header, from a Messi ball, on target before the opening goal as Messi beat Mario Hermoso, after a neat pass from Ivan Rakatic, before slamming home – although replays showed the goal should have been disallowed with Messi in an offside position.

Pau Lopez denied Rakatic moments later though before Messi's second, after a bit of luck, as Jordi Alba fed the goalscorer a second time – after Papakouli Diop's failed clearance returned saw the ball returned to Alba who in turn picked out Messi for a simple finish.

Pablo Piatti smashed a post at the end of the first half, while Lopez denied Suarez as he looked to stab home a Delofeu pass.

Piatti should have scored but put a chipped finish wide after some slack defending from Alba.

Suarez continued to go close, this time with a spooned effort after some neat build-up play.

Samuel Umtiti denied Léo Baptistão with a block from close range before Messi grabbed his 38th hat-trick.

Alba cut the ball back for his teammate to steer home after Messi had found Suarez, who did well to hold off Hermoso and feel the Alba.

Paulinho so nearly scored after coming on for his debut but couldn't finish off a Messi ball, as the Argentine again came close with the match wining down. 

But it was Pique next on the scoresheet with a powerful header from a corner before Suarez finally got his goal.

The Uruguayan was fed by an excellent pass from Ousmane Dembele, who had also just come on for his debut as Barca displayed their wealth of talent as this one-sided affair drew to a close.

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