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Messi treble stretches Barca lead

  • Published at 05:15 am September 10th, 2017
Messi treble stretches Barca lead
An insatiable Lionel Messi hit a hat-trick as Barcelona hammered Espanyol 5-0 in a local derby on Saturday to make it three wins from three and take full advantage after Liga champions Real Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Levante. The Argentine was handed a slice of luck with his first goal, which should have been ruled out for offside, and then showed no mercy to Espanyol, moving on to five goals in three league games as record signing Ousmane Dembele came off the bench in the second half to make his Barca debut. Late goals from Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez completed the thrashing, with Dembele grabbing an assist, laying on the pass for the Uruguayan's goal. Real, who were still missing talisman Cristiano Ronaldo through suspension, dropped points at home for the second game running as a misfiring Gareth Bale squandered a series of chances and Marcelo was sent off late on. Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid were held to a goalless draw away to Valencia as they missed the presence of suspended striker Antoine Griezmann, while Sevilla warmed up for their Champions League trip to Liverpool by beating Eibar 3-0. At the Nou Camp Messi put Barca on their way to a routine victory over their struggling neighbours in the 26th minute with a trademark piece of close control in the area and bullet finish into the top corner, although he had received the ball in an offside position. The Argentine struck next from close range, sliding in to meet a Jordi Alba cutback 10 minutes before half-time after the Spain left-back had bombed forward on the break. Messi completed his treble midway through the second half by finishing off a sweeping team move, lashing home another pass from Alba from inside the area. "Despite the result it wasn't as easy as it looked. They (Espanyol) always play hard in these games and we came through a difficult game on top," said Barca coach Ernesto Valverde. "They fought very hard, but we have players like Messi, who scored three goals, and Suarez, who gave everything, just like the rest of the team." Espanyol have now lost on their last 10 visits to the Nou Camp and although they were grossly mismatched here they were still afforded a couple of chances, both falling to Pablo Piatti, who struck the post in the first half and narrowly missed the target with an attempted chip in the second. RESULTS Real Madrid 1 (Lucas Vazquez 36) Levante 1 (Ivi 12) Valencia 0 Atletico Madrid 0 Sevilla 3 (Ganso 46, Ben Yedder 76, Nolito 90+1) Eibar 0 Barcelona 5 (Messi 26, 35, 66, Pique 87, Suarez 89) Espanyol 0
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