Football news - Lionel Messi masterclass sees Barcelona crush Espanyol
Liga, RCDE Stadium – Espanyol 0 Barcelona 4 (Messi 17, 65, Dembélé 26, Suárez 45)
Lionel Messi was in sparkling form as Barcelona crushed rivals Espanyol in a comprehensive 4-0 La Liga victory.
The Argentine superstar scored two free-kicks and provided an assist of the highest calibre for Ousmane Dembele as Ernesto Valverde’s men opened up a three-point advantage over Sevilla in second.
Luis Suarez was also on the scoresheet on his much-awaited return from injury, slotting home on the cusp of half-time to give Barca a three-goal lead at the interval after the earlier strikes from Messi and Dembele.
Messi added another after 65 minutes, a second imperious free-kick, with Espanyol unable to lay a glove on their city rivals. Oscar Duarte thought he had grabbed a consolation but his 74th-minute effort was ruled out for offside after a VAR review.
Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele celebrates scoring their second goal with Lionel Messi and Jordi AlbaReuters
TALKING POINT - Did the Ballon d’Or or Pele’s comments fire up Lionel Messi?
From the very first whistle Messi had the look of a man on a mission this evening. Much was made of the way he was overlooked for the 2018 Ballon d’Or, finishing fifth in the rankings earlier this week. On top of that, Pele made some disparaging comments about the Argentine, calling him one-footed. So was Messi fired up by these two things? If he was, it was Espanyol who paid the price. A sensational performance from the best player of all-time. One-footed or not.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
The great man made a mockery of the Ballon d’Or voting with this performance. Ranked the fifth best player in the world earlier in the week, this was Messi at his best. The best in the world. His stunning, free-kick opener broke the deadlock, providing the highlight of the game along with his carbon copy second in the second half, but Messi was irrepressible throughout. Espanyol stood no chance of stopping the Barca number 10 in this mood. A quite astonishing performance.
Leo Messi celebrates scoring against EspanyolEurosport
17’ GOAL! Espanyol 0-1 Barcelona: A stunning opener to break the deadlock in the derby! That free-kick must have been 25 yards out, maybe even further, but Messi whips his foot around the ball and finds the top corner of Lopez's net! What a sensational strike from the great man!
26’ GOAL! Espanyol 0-2 Barcelona: Barcelona have a two-goal cushion in the derby! It was Dembele with the finish, curling the shot into the far corner of the Espanyol net, but how did Messi keep hold of the ball for the assist? He was on the floor, had players around him, but still managed to make the pass.
38’ Save! Then post! Espanyol are somehow trailing by just two goals! First, Lopez makes the save from Rakitic's header. Then Messi's header on the rebound comes off the inside of the post.
45’ GOAL! Espanyol 0-3 Barcelona: This derby is as good as over. Suarez gets goalside of his marker, wriggling in on goal. Somehow, the Barcelona number nine squeezes home the finish from an impossibly tight angle. How did he score from that angle?
64’ GOAL! Espanyol 0-4 Barcelona: He's done it AGAIN! This is an incredible showing by Messi, even by his alien standards. It's another wonderful free-kick from the Barcelona number 10. A Golazo from Messi. There was nothing Lopez could have done to stop that. Unstoppable.
73’ GOAL! Espanyol 1-4 Barcelona: The hosts have one back! The free-kick delivery from Garcia was a good one and Duarte stuck out a boot to divert the finish into the back of the net. There is a question of offside, though, and so the officials will look at the goal through VAR.
75’ GOAL CHALKED OFF! The Espanyol fans aren't happy about that. Duarte was offside when the delivery was made into the box and the officials have decided that the goal shouldn't stand.
- Lionel Messi scored two freekicks in the one La Liga game for the first time ever.
- Ousmane Dembele has been directly involved in eight goals in his last eight appearances for Barcelona.