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Barcelona beat Levante as marvellous Messi shines again

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick and has two asissts as Barcelona beat Levante in LaLiga to push them three points clear of the chasing pack.


Levante 0-5 Barcelona: match report

Lionel Messi netted his first hat-trick of the La Liga season and provided two assists in a sensational individual display as a rampant Barcelona won 5-0 at Levante to strengthen their lead at the top of the table on Sunday.

Messi carved his way through the home side's defence before producing an outrageous no-look pass for Luis Suarez to open the scoring in the 35th minute, shortly after mid-table Levante had hit the underside of the crossbar.

The Argentine struck his first goal of the night two minutes before the interval, latching on to a defence-splitting pass from Sergio Busquets and racing clear to knock the ball through the legs of Levante's goalkeeper with his weaker right foot.

Messi further stretched Barca's advantage at the start of the second half, dispatching Jordi Alba's low cross into the bottom corner with a first-time finish, before completing his treble from close range.

The Barca captain's hat-trick followed his two mesmeric goals from free kicks against Espanyol last week and took him on to 14 goals for the season, becoming the top scorer in La Liga and Europe's top five leagues.

Messi also laid on the 88th minute pass for defender Gerard Pique to complete the rout which took leaders Barca on to 34 points after 16 games, three points clear of both second-placed Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, in third.

Levante vs Barcelona live online: match commentary and updates

Levante vs Barcelona live online: preview

Barcelona travel to play Levante on Sunday, December 16 at 20:45 CET with their sights set on solidifying their grip on the league's top spot after Sevilla, Atlético Madrid and the other three teams below them in the league all won this weekend. Barcelona will finish first barring a ridiculous defeat but a win would move them one step closer to the Christmas break with a healthy lead over their rivals.

The last time the two sides met in this stadium, Barcelona were humbled. Chasing an unbeaten season, they were beaten 5-4 after going behind by five goals to one. Messi came on and changed the game that day and it's impossible to see how he doesn't start on Sunday night in Valencia.

Levante are currently sitting in seventh and a win would propel them into the European places. Pedro Lopez, Samu Garcia and Cheick Doukouré are all out against Barcelona but Paco Lopez won't have to reshape his attack too much as none of those players played against Eibar in their thrilling 4-4 draw with Eibar last week.

Barcelona are missing Samuel Umtiti, Sergi Roberto, Rafinha and Malcom, who are all out for longer terms with Vermaelen expected to be given a chance with central defenders thin on the ground for the league leaders.. Dembele, who has been in the news recently over his tardiness but also his excellence, scored a cracker against Spurs and is settling into the team nicely. Valverde says he is delighted with him and he should start tonight alongside Messi and Suárez.


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