Lionel Messi hits four as Barcelona batter Eibar
Lionel Messi turned on the style once again with four goals as Barcelona maintained their 100% start in La Liga with a crushing 6-1 win over Eibar at the Camp Nou. The Argentinian launched a devastating second-half display to sink the visitors, with further goals coming from Denis Suárez and Paulinho, while Sergi Enrich replied.
Ernesto Valverde made a number of changes, with Luis Suárez dropping to the bench and the new signing Ousmane Dembélé ruled out for four months with a hamstring injury. There were few signs of the performance to come as the hosts once again struggled in the early stages and were fortunate not to fall behind. Enrich raced clear on to a David Juncà through ball with just three minutes on the clock but fired a tame shot straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The home goalkeeper was also called upon after 10 minutes with a stretching save to deny the lively Takashi Inui, who once again got behind the Barcelona defence.
The home side showed little attacking intent until the 20th minute, when Alejandro Gálvez fouled Nélson Semedo in the penalty area and Messi stepped up to score his first of the night from the spot.
The 30-year-old had a chance to quickly add a second but was denied by a fine save from Marko Dmitrovic, while Semedo had to be alert to block another Inui charge at the other end.
Barcelona’s increasing dominance was bound to pay off and the home side doubled their lead in the 38th minute when Paulinho burst into the box to meet a Denis Suárez corner and direct a powerful header past Dmitrovic.
Anaitz Arbilla shaved the woodwork for Eibar with a long-range free-kick on the stroke of half-time but Barcelona started the second half with much more purpose and quickly extended their lead. Messi was once again the instigator as he drove at the visiting defence before hitting a shot which was spilled by Dmitrovic into the path of Denis Suárez, who swept home to make it 3-0.
To their credit Eibar kept pushing forward and they were rewarded when they reduced the deficit in the 57th minute, Enrich converting a cross from Junca.
Barcelona responded with a devastating period of play, though, which began with Messi making it 4-1 in the 59th minute when he was fed by Sergio Busquets on the edge of the penalty area and, despite being off-balance, threaded the ball past Dmitrovic.
Three minutes later he completed the 49th hat-trick of his career when he surged down the right from a Paulinho pass, and again beat the helpless Dmitrovic with a shot to the bottom corner.
The busy Eibar keeper kept the score down with saves from Gerard Deulofeu and Lucas Digne, though the substitute Rubén Peña still managed to hit the post for Eibar.
Messi wrapped up another extraordinary night three minutes from time when he pounced on Aleix Vidal’s cutback to make it 6-1, before Brazilian Charles headed against the bar for the visitors.
Earlier in the evening, Simone Zaza also scored a nine-minute hat-trick as Valencia routed Málaga 5-0. The Italy international, who experienced an ill-fated loan spell with West Ham last year, struck three times between the 54th and 63rd minutes after Santi Mina had opened the scoring for Valencia, with the substitute Rodrigo adding a fifth late on.The Guardian UK