By Izuchukwu Okosi:
Lionel Messi scored his 38th Barcelona hat-trick in all competitions on Saturday night in the team’s emphatic 5-0 rout of Espanyol in their third La Liga game of the new campaign.
Gerrard Pique and Luis Suarez were Barca’s other goal scorers.
Messi scored the first goal in the 26th minute when he evaded two markers to unleash a shot from close range. He doubled his team’s lead 10 minutes before half time break.
Suarez who shrugged off an injury whilst on international break missed some decent chances, the closest being in the 55th minute when he blazed wide in the six yard box after a cutback from Messi.
However Messi grabbed his hat-trick in the 67th minute. The Argentine found Suarez who laid a pass onto the path of Jordi Alba. The Spaniard’s cutback was dispatched with a low shot by Messi.
Barca manager Ernesto Vervede introduced new signings Ousmane Dembele and Paulinho for their Barcelona debuts in the second half.
Pique made it 4-0 with a header three minutes to the end of the match after outjumping Mario Hermoso and beating goalkeeper Pau Lopez.
Suarez then scored the fifth goal, his first of the season, with the assist from new boy Dembele in the 90th minute.