Barcelona 5-0 Espanyol: Lionel Messi hits treble as Ousmane Dembele gets assist on debut
By Robert O'Connor
Last Updated: 10/09/17 7:43am
Barcelona romped to a 5-0 win over Espanyol in the 167th Catalan derby thanks to a 38th career hat-trick from Lionel Messi on Sunday.
Messi slotted home from an Ivan Rakitic through-ball midway through the first half, despite replays showing the Argentine was clearly offside when the ball was played.
Jordi Alba slipped in Messi for his second and the full-back repeated the trick shortly after the break as Messi and Barca made it three.
Gerard Pique powered in a header to make it 4-0 before £135m Ousmane Dembele, who was making his debut, set up Luis Suarez for a simple last-minute tap in, as Barca cruised to the top of the La Liga table.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen (7), Semedo (7), Piqué (8), Rakitic (8), Sergio (7), Iniesta (7), Suárez (8), Messi (9), Deulofeu (7), Alba (7), Umtiti (8)
Subs: Paulinho (7), Dembele (8), Gomes (6)
Espanyol: Pau Lopez (8), Aaron (6), Victor S (7), Gerard (6), Leo Baptistao (6), David Lopez (7), Javi Fuego (6), Piatti (5), Diop (5), Hermoso (6), Darder (6)
Subs: Villa (7), Garcia (6), Navarro (6)
Man of the match: Leo Messi
Barca received a massive slice of fortune early on when the linesman failed to spot Messi had strayed offside from Rakitic's pass before the Barca forward danced inside Mario Hermoso and slammed his finish into the roof of the goal.
Their luck was in again moments later when the ball ricocheted off Espanyol's Pape Diop and into the path of Alba, who teed up Messi for his second.
Espanyol came close to reducing the deficit when Pablo Piatti's superb drive struck Marc-Andre ter Stegen's post but a lack of ambition cost Quique Sanchez Flores' side, who wilted under the hosts' late onslaught.
Alba was creator again when he pulled back for Messi to crash in his third after good link-up play with Suarez.
Pique bullied Espanyol defender Hermoso to send a bullet header past stricken goalkeeper Pau Lopez as the visitors' resistance crumbled, before the 20-year-old Dembele gave a glimpse of what is to come when he beat the offside trap and showed great vision to set up Suarez.
Man of the match - Lionel Messi
It was a perfect showing from Messi whose technique and vision were a microcosm of everything we've come to expect from the Argentine. His finishing was imperious and the ease with which he beat Pau Lopez three times for the slickest of hat-tricks helped lay down a marker for Barca's intentions as they seek to win back their La Liga crown.