Barcelona, Sep 10 (IANS) Leo Messi scored a hat-trick as Barcelona continued their 100 percent start to the new Liga Santander football season with a 5-0 win at home over local rivals Espanyol.
It may have been tough for Barca off the pitch with failed signings, but Messi turned on the style in the Camp Nou to put his side 2-0 up by halftime against a rival who will point out that his opening goal came from a marginally offside position on Saturday, reports Xinhua news agency.
Luis Suarez had a couple of good chances saved by Pau in the Espanyol goal, but Messi assured the points remained in the Camp Nou when he rounded off his hat-trick in the 67th minute.
Barca coach Ernesto Valverde brought record signing Ousmane Dembele into the game directly after the goal, but it was Gerard Pique who scored Barca’s fourth of the game with a powerful header five minutes from time.
Dembele then announced his arrival with a low cross to tee up Suarez for Barca’s fifth to round off a perfect night for Barca fans.
While there were celebrations in the Camp Nou, Madrid dropped four points behind Barca as they surprisingly let two other points escape them in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium after being held to a 1-1 draw by Levante in a midday kick off.
Both the goals came in the first half with Ivo reacting well to put the visitors ahead following a long throw in the 12th minute, before Lucas Vazquez equalized 10 minutes from halftime.
Madrid lost Karim Benzema with a knee injury which will see him out for between month and six weeks and ended the game with 10 men after Marcelo was sent off in injury time after lashing out at Levante midfielder Lerma.
Toni Kroos hit the post for Madrid in injury time, but to concede a late goal would have been harsh on Levante for a brave and well-drilled display.
Valencia and Atletico Madrid drew 0-0 in a game where the tactics of Diego Simeone and Marcelino Garcia produced a spectacle that was probably enjoyed more by both coaches than neutrals.
Sevilla got off to a slow start but prepared for Wednesday’ s Champions League visit to Liverpool with a 3-0 win at home to Eibar.
Ganso opened the scoring in the 46th minute before Wassim Ben Yedder doubled their lead in the 76th minute and Nolito sealed an eventually comfortable win in injury time.
The round of games kicked off on Friday night with Getafe defeating Leganes 2-1 in the first ever south Madrid derby in the Spanish top-flight.