Lionel Messi pulled away in the Pichichi race with a hat trick on Saturday as Barcelona dispatched their noisy neighbours 5-0 at Camp Nou in the season’s first Catalan derby.
Barcelona took a 2-0 lead at half-time in the Catalan derby thanks to Lionel Messi’s brace. The Argentine added his and Barca’s third six minutes after the hour mark to extend his La Liga goals tally to five in three games.
Gerard Pique climbed highest in the final four minutes to head home a superbly delivered corner kick by Ivan Rakitic, leaving the returning Saurez to complete the rout on the stroke of 90 minutes, condemning their visitors to their second defeat after three league games.
Record signing Ousmane Dembele was named as a substitute by Barca, but they had Luis Suarez back spearheading their front line, a month after he pulled with a knee injury against Real Betis.
Dembele was included in the matchday squad for the first time but failed to displace Gerard Deulofeu on the left wing. Suarez, however, had recovered from a knee injury to once more spearhead the Blaugrana’s attacking trident.
Elsewhere for the Barcelona, Nelson Semedo started ahead of Sergi Roberto and Aleix Vidal – both of whom were culled – at right-back, while Sergio Busquets returned in central midfield.
Espanyol, meanwhile, handed a debut to former Malaga midfielder Sergi Darder, a season-long loan arrival from Olympique Lyonnais.
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