Lionel Messi destroys Espanyol with super hat-trick

Ernesto Valverde banks on debutant Ousmane Dembele to make instant impact against Espanyol

Ernesto Valverde banks on debutant Ousmane Dembele to make instant impact against Espanyol

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde hailed "extraordinary" Lionel Messi after the Argentina playmaker netted a hat-trick in the 5-0 thrashing of Catalan rivals Espanyol at the Nou Camp.

The Argentine wizard scored his second nine minutes later as he slid in Jordi Alba's low centre.

And the five-time Ballon d'Or victor completed his hat trick seven minutes after the hour mark with a straight forward finish of Alba's pass - the Barca No. 10 sweeping his first-time shot into the far corner from the middle of the box.

Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao are two points off the lead, while defending champion Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid dropped four points back after being held to disappointing draws on Saturday.

The 20-year-old, who signed for £135m from Borussia Dortmund this summer, came on a substitute in the 68th minute with Barca already 3-0 up thanks to a hat-trick from Lionel Messi.

'We pulled through a complicated game, because these kinds of matches are always tough.

Villarreal had lost its first two games and was yet to score a goal, while Real Betis has now lost two of its first three matches.

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'Despite the result, it wasn't easy.

On the pitch Barcelona have won their opening two games of the season, despite not playing their best football and they can expect Espanyol to again make things hard for them.

"It took him a bit of time to digest the deal", Valverde said of Dembele ahead of the derby against city rivals Espanyol.

"We haven't had a good time at the Nou Camp recently, it's always hard and we have really struggled to win there, even to pick up a point, but I believe we can get something positive this time", said Espanyol midfielder Victor Sanchez.

"It's great that all the transfers are out of the way and now we can concentrate on the team we have, I'm very happy with it", Valverde added.

'His team-mates know that he has real quality'.

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