MNA Sports Desk: Lionel Messi’s hat-trick saw Barcelona move four points clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga as Ousmane Dembele marked his debut with an assist in a 5-0 rout of local rivals Espanyol on Saturday.
Earlier, Madrid paid for the absence of the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo and a series of missed chances by Gareth Bale as they were held to a shock 1-1 home draw by newly-promoted Levante.
Barca made no such mistake as for all their early season off-field problems, Ernesto Valverde’s men have taken maximum points from their opening three La Liga games.
Messi led the way with a virtuoso performance, but his opener also needed a huge slice of luck as he was wrongly not flagged offside from Ivan Rakitic’s through ball before blasting into the top corner.
Barca’s second arrived thanks to a counter-attack from an Espanyol corner led by Messi and Luis Suarez before Jordi Alba’s low cross was slotted home at the near post by the Argentine, reported news agency.