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Football news - Lionel Messi scores hat-trick as Barcelona drub Levante 5-0

Messi scores hat-trick as Barcelona drub Levante 5-0

16/12/2018 at 17:59Updated 16/12/2018 at 21:59

La Liga, Ciudad de Valencia - Levante 0 Barcelona 5 (Suarez 35', Messi 43' 47' 60', Pique 88')

Lionel Messi bagged a brilliant hat trick as Barcelona put five past Levante to re-establish their three-point advantage at the top of La Liga.

Victories for Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Sevilla over the weekend had put the pressure on Ernesto Valverde’s side to keep up their pace at the top of the table, and they did so in style as Messi turned in a performance for the ages.

It was Luis Suarez who opened the scoring following 35 minutes, finding the net from a Messi dribble and cross just moments after Levante had smashed an effort against the crossbar. Messi himself doubled the Catalans’ advantage before the break, calmly finishing after being played through by Sergio Busquets.

Messi added his second, and Barca’s third, just two minutes into the second half, guiding home a shot after being picked out by Jordi Alba, and then capped his hat-trick on the hour mark following good work by Suarez and Arturo Vidal.

Levante were reduced to 10 men when Erick Cabacao was shown a red card for bringing down Ousmane Dembele and Gerard Pique added his name to the score sheet late on to cap an impressive display from the defending champions.

TALKING POINT - Is Lionel Messi in the form of his life right now?

It’s likely that this question has been asked more than once over the course of Messi’s career, but he now has 12 goals in his last 10 games, and some of his performances over that run have been among his best ever. Take his display against Espanyol last week and then add in this performance against Levante. Neither opposition side played particularly poorly, yet ended up on the end of a pasting purely because of Messi’s brilliance. Is this as good as he has ever been?

MAN OF THE MATCH - Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

How could Man of the Match be anyone else? This was Messi at his best. Everything Barcelona did flowed through the number 10. He’s the best passer in world football. He’s the best crosser in world football. He’s the best mover in world football. He’s the best freekick taker in world football. And, of course, he’s the best finisher in world football. We saw all of that this evening. It was a real joy to watch. This was a complete performance.

PLAYER RATINGS

Levante - Oier 5, Pier 6, Cabaco 5, Postigo 5, Jason 6, Bardhi 7, Campana 6, Tono 5, Rochina 6, Boateng 7, Morales 7. Subs - Coke 5, Mayoral 6, Prcic 5.

Barcelona - Ter Stegen 6, Vermaelen 5, Pique 8, Lenglet 6, Alba 7, Vidal 7, Busquets 6, Rakitic 6, Messi 10, Suarez 8, Dembele 7. Subs - Denis 5, Coutinho 5, Arthur 5.

KEY MOMENTS

34’ Against the woodwork! Inches away from being an opener for Levante! Boateng turned his marker and thumped a shot towards goal, which crashed off the underside of the bar and away. So unlucky!

35’ GOAL! Levante 0-1 Barcelona: Somewhat against the run of play, Barcelona have taken the lead! Messi made it. He dribbled his way out to the left side, crossed for Suarez, who volleyed past Oier with a wonderful side-footed finish! Levante are made to pay.

43’ GOAL! Levante 0-2 Barcelona: The Catalans have doubled their advantage and it's you know who. Messi has scored a second for Barcelona after being played into space by Busquets. The Levante defence couldn't catch him and Messi finishes into the back of the net.

47’ GOAL! Levante 0-3 Barcelona: With that goal, Barcelona are out of sight. Alba drove down the left wing, who cut the pass back for Messi, who guides the low finish into the back of the net. That was a classic finish from the legendary Argentinean! He's got two!

60’ GOAL! Levante 0-4 Barcelona: It's a hat trick from Messi! What a performance this has been from the great man! That might well be a goal of the season contender, with Suarez nutmegging, Vidal playing to Messi for the number 10 to prod home. Make sure you see this.

76’ SENT OFF! Things are going from bad to worse for Levante. They have now been reduced to 10 men after a bad challenge from Cabaca on Dembele. No complaints about that.

79’ What a miss! That should have been five for Barcelona! Messi played through Suarez, who saw the whites of the goalkeeper's eyes, but he sends his low shot wide of the far post.

88’ GOAL! Levante 0-5 Barcelona: It's FIVE for Barcelona and Pique has got himself in on the act! He picked up the ball in his own area before driving his team forward and finishing the move himself! What more would you expect from Pique? Impressive.

KEY STATS

Lionel Messi is the first player to reach double figures in both goals (14) and assists (10) in Europe’s big five leagues this season.

Messi has now scored 43 hat tricks for Barcelona over his career (in all competitions.

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