Barcelona continued their perfect start to the La Liga season with a third consecutive win to go top of the table. Lionel Messi (3), Gerard Piqué and Luis Suárez scored the goals in a 5-0 demolition of Espanyol, and the Blaugrana dominated their crosstown rivals to secure another win with another clean sheet. Three points in the bag, confidence up, and no injuries ahead of the Champions League opener against Juventus. A very good night.
The initial period was a mirror image of the first two matches: Barça keeping possession and moving the ball well, with the final pass lacking to unlock a tight Espanyol defense. The Blaugrana looked safe and sound in the few instances when they had to defend, and although Pablo Piatti hit the post a few minutes before halftime, Barça didn’t suffer without the ball.
Offensively, the play didn’t run through Lionel Messi as much as it did against Alavés two weeks ago, but the Argentine was still the source of every good attacking chance the team created. Messi got two goals in the first half, the first coming after a brilliant pass from Ivan Rakitic found Leo alone (and offside) inside the box, and Messi calmly dribbled past a defender before finding the net.
Messi’s second came after his pass to Jordi Alba was intercepted but bounced straight back to Alba, who set up Leo for his brace. At halftime, Barça weren’t playing brilliantly, but they did just enough to secure a comfortable lead.
Espanyol had a very good start to the second half, committing many bodies forward and putting Barça under pressure. Piatti nearly scored with a chip over Ter Stegen, but his shot when just wide. Leo Baptistao also went close to getting a goal before Samuel Umtiti made a vital block and sent the ball over the bar. When Espanyol looked their best, Lionel Messi killed the game with a nice finish after an assist from Jordi Alba.
Once Messi completed his hat-trick, Ousmane Dembélé came on in place of Gerard Deulofeu to make his debut for the club, and the young Frenchman made his mark with a great assist to Luis Suárez, who scored Barça’s fifth after Piqué added a goal as well.
Three league games, three wins, three clean sheets, a 5-0 Derby win. Not too shabby. Up next, Juventus in the Champions League, and Barça look ready.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets (Paulinho), Iniesta (Gomes); Messi; Deulofeu (Dembélé), Suárez
Goals: Messi (25’, 35’, 67’), Piqué (87’), Suárez (90’)
Espanyol: P. López; Sánchez (Navarro), D. López, Hermoso, Aarón; Piatti (García), Diop, Fuego, Darder (Dídac); Gerard, Baptistao