Reuters

Lionel Messi hits four as Barcelona destroy Eibar

Messi hits four as Barcelona destroy Eibar

19/09/2017 at 22:48Updated 20/09/2017 at 08:33

La Liga, Camp Nou – Barcelona 6 (Messi 21 pen, 59, 62, 87, Paulinho 38, D. Suarez 53) Eibar 1 (Enrich 57)

Lionel Messi bagged an astonishing four goals as Barcelona maintained their perfect start to the Liga campaign with a 6-1 destruction of Eibar at Camp Nou.

Ernesto Valverde rotated his squad for the visit of the Galician minnows, but it did little to disrupt the momentum that the Catalans have built up in recent weeks. Messi’s penalty got the Catalan giants motoring midway through the first period, with Paulinho adding his second goal in as many matches before the break.

Denis Suarez also scored his second goal in as many matches to put Barca three ahead after the restart, before Sergi Enrich reduced the arrears for the visitors. But while that goal suggested a minor fightback from Eibar, it ultimately amounted to nothing.

Lionel Messi celebrates with Paulinho

Lionel Messi celebrates with PaulinhoGetty Images

However, that prompted Messi to take control - the Argentine firing two goals in three minutes to kill off any hopes of an unlikely turnaround. Aleix Vidal added a sixth in the closing stages to complete the demolition as Barcelona made it five wins from five.

TALKING POINT - Nelsen Semedo could be the most significant Barcelona signing in years

Barcelona’s transfer strategy over the summer was criticised for being somewhat scattergun. Indeed, they seemed to lack direction as they panicked following the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain. However, that scattergun approach delivered Nelsen Semedo, who could prove to be the most significant Barca signing in years. He has solved a problem area for them.

Barcelona’s Denis Suarez celebrates scoring their third goal

Barcelona’s Denis Suarez celebrates scoring their third goalReuters

MAN OF THE MATCH - Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Just when you think Messi can’t reach new heights, he scores four goals in a single game without so much as breaking a sweat. That was the most impressive thing about the Argentine’s display against Eibar - this wasn’t even him at his best. He has now scored 43 goals from 40 games this year and has so far carried Barcelona over the early stages of the 2017/18 season. Valverde owes him a beer or something.

PLAYER RATINGS

Barcelona - Ter Stegen 6, Semedo 8, Pique 5, Mascherano 4, Digne 6, Busquets 5, Paulinho 7, Iniesta 6, Deulofeu 6, Messi 9, Denis 7. Subs - Rakitic 5, Vidal 7, Roberto 5.

Eibar - Dmitrovic 6, Galvez 5, Escalante 5, Capa 5, Inui 7, Enrich 7, Paulo 5, Garcia 5, Arbilla 5, Junca 6, Jordan 5. Subs - Pena 5, Rivera 5, Charles 5.

KEY MOMENTS

19’ PENALTY KICK TO BARCELONA! Semedo was brought down inside the area and the referee points to the spot.

20’ GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Eibar: Against the run of play, Messi has given Barcelona the lead. There was never any real doubt about it, with the Argentine lifting the penalty over the diving keeper.

37’ GOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Eibar: Barcelona have a second goal and it has come through Paulinho! The Brazilian made the run from deep, gets in between the defenders and heads home from about 10 yards out.

53’ GOAL! Barcelona 3-0 Eibar: Barcelona have their third of the night and that should put the result beyond any doubt. Messi drew the low save from the keeper, but Denis is on hand to finish the rebound at the near post.

57’ GOAL! Barcelona 3-1 Eibar: The away side have a lifeline in this match. Enrich got in between two Barcelona defenders, getting on the end of a cross into the penalty area to finish on the volley. Nice goal.

59’ GOAL! Barcelona 4-1 Eibar: And Barcelona have almost instantly restored their three goal lead! Messi was surrounded by Eibar defenders on the edge of the box, but he still rolled a finish into the back of the net.

62’ GOAL! Barcelona 5-1 Eibar: Messi has grabbed himself a hat trick! Paulinho played the pass through to the Argentine, who managed to fend them off to squeeze a finish under the approaching Eibar goalkeeper.

86’ OFF THE POST! That was inches away from being a second Eibar goal. Pena sends a shot towards goal, but his effort strikes the inside of the post and flashes across the line.

88’ GOAL! Barcelona 6-1 Eibar: Messi has FOUR goals! Vidal gets to the byline, squaring a pass back for the Barcelona number 10 who has the simple task of finishing into the empty net. What a display from Messi.

KEY STATS

Lionel Messi has scored 43 goals in 40 games for Barcelona in 2017.

Paulinho scored two goals for Barcelona with his first two shots on target (in all competitions).

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