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.
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.
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.
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.
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