Lionel Messi hat-trick lights up Barcelona derby win over Espanyol

Lionel Messi scored his 38th career hat trick as a Barcelona player, as Barca continued their flawless start with a derby win over Espanyol. Rakitic clips a ball into the box for Messi, who takes the touch, rounds the defender and finishes high into the net. The linesman failed to spot it and the goal was allowed to stand despite the protests of the Espanyol players.

Barcelona's possession statistics reached 80% at the mid-point of the first period, and that transferred into a goal in the 26th minute when Messi collected a super pass from Rakitic inside the Espanyol box before finishing into the top corner.

Messi was unbothered by the controversy and doubled Barcelona's lead nine minutes later.

It may have been tough for Barca off the pitch with failed signings, but Messi turned on the style in the Camp Nou to put his side 2-0 up by halftime against a rival who will point out that his opening goal came from a marginally offside position.

Luis Suarez nearly made it 3-0 early in the second period after meeting a low cross from Rakitic, but Pau Lopez was on hand to keep out the Uruguay international's inventive flick.

However, it was Espanyol again who should have scored - with Pablo Piatti this time being unable to capitalise on Alba's error which saw the ball fall generously into the striker's path with Ter Stegen advanced, but the 28-year-old could only pull his lobbed effort wide.

Lionel Messi. While the Argentina number 10 was at least a yard offside when collecting a pass from Ivan Rakitic to open the scoring, he remained at the heart of everything Barcelona produced going forwards.

Valverde has his whole squad available after the global break aside from Ivan Rakitic, who sustained a hamstring injury while on duty with Croatia. Subs - Dembele 7, Paulinho 6, Gomes 5. That could have been a lifeline for Espanyol.

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.

66' GOAL! Barcelona 3-0 Espanyol: It's all about Messi this evening!

While Barca scored five, they will also be keen to point out they are yet to concede a goal in La Liga this season: three games, three clean sheets. Lionel Messi was the difference in Barcelona's last La Liga game, netting a brace against Deportivo Alaves.

  • Stacy Allen