Messi leads Espanyol rout

Madrid, Sep 11: Lionel Messi’s hattrick 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. Barca 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.

Messi put the outcome beyond any doubt by rounding off his hattrick with another sharp finish from Alba’s cut-back. Dembele has the unenviable task of replacing the departed Neymar and the Barca player had to wait until 22 minutes from time for his debut as he replaced Gerard Deulofeu to a standing ovation.

He showed why Barca have made the 20-year-old the third most expensive player ever as his pinpoint cross was swept home by Suarez to round off the scoring after Gerard Pique had headed home Barca’s fourth.

However, even a fine display didn’t dissuade the bad feeling towards Barca’s under-fire board after a chaotic summer in the transfer market and splits between the boardroom and the dressing room, with Messi and Andres Iniesta yet to sign extensions to their contracts which expire in 2018. Suarez’s fifth goal was met with chants for president Josep Maria Bartomeu to resign.

Source Tribune India