Messi treble stretches Barca lead over wasteful Real

It was the revenge of some Sheikh – Van Gaal unimpressed by Neymar's PSG switch

Lionel Messi scored his 38th career hat trick as a Barcelona player, as Barca continued their ideal start with a derby win over Espanyol.

Messi opened the scoring in the 26th minute when he fantastically beat a man in the area before crashing a finish into the top corner.

Dembele assist Even better for their long-term prospects than the lopsided win, the player who Barcelona signed to help fill the hole left by Neymar had a positive debut.

However, the 22-year-old custodian could not repeat similar heroics during Barca's next effort on goal, which was fortunate to say the least, as Messi was on hand to simply tuck away his second of the evening following Jordi Alba's squared ball.

La Liga champions Real Madrid dropped points at home for the second game running when they drew 1-1 with Levante on Saturday, with Gareth Bale squandering a series of chances and Marcelo getting sent off late on.

With four minutes to go Pique rose highest to head in a corner from Rakitic.

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Espanyol were being outplayed but retained a sporadic threat, with Pique and Samuel Umtiti diverting Leo Batistao's 61st-minute shot behind.

Suarez was little doubt that Messi was the hero of the hour and handed his team-mate familiar plaudits.

Barcelona have won both their LaLiga games so far this season 2-0 and will hope to cruise past Espanyol, who have only registered a point from their opening two games.

Barcelona are the only side in La Liga to have taken maximum points from the three games played and the team are yet to concede a goal.

With the result secure, Ernesto Valverde sent on Dembele in the 68th minute to make his debut, replacing Gerard Deulofeu to great applause from the Nou Camp faithful.

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