Barcelona 5 Espanyol 0: Messi hat-trick opens up four-point LaLiga advantage over Madrid
A Lionel Messi hat-trick inspired a comprehensive 5-0 Catalan derby win over Espanyol for Barcelona, who continued their 100 per cent start to life under Ernesto Valverde in LaLiga.
Messi opened the scoring in the 25th minute, although replays showed the five-time Ballon d'Or winner was in an offside position when he received Ivan Rakitic's pass.
There was little else to question in a majestic display from Barca's talisman, who twice made the most of expert service from Jordi Alba to claim the matchball in the 67th minute - goals 17 and 18 against Espanyol in the top flight.
There were some dicey moments for Valverde's men at the back but the Camp Nou faithful were able to lap up Ousmane Dembele's second half debut with the points safe, even if chants calling for the resignation of club president Josep Maria Bartomeu tempered a goal-laden finale.
Club-record signing Dembele set up Luis Suarez to complete the scoring after Gerard Pique headed a fourth from Ivan Rakitic's 87th-minute corner and Real Madrid's 1-1 draw at home to Levante earlier on Saturday means Barca hold a four-point advantage over the champions after three matches.