Messi Grabs 38th Barca Hat-trick In Espanyol Rout

Ousmane Dembele made an immediate impact at Barcelona, providing a perfectly-weighted assist for Luis Suarez to score in a 5-0 rout of Espanyol.

Messi opened the scoring at Camp Nou when he received a pass from Ivan Rakitic in what appeared to be an offside position.

After Espanyol forward Pablo Piatti hit the post, Messi made it a treble with a left-footed strike to slot in another pass from Alba.

"That's why I played for the national team".

A mix-up between Ter Stegen and Alba nearly gave Espanyol a lifeline in the 51st minute but Piatti's lofted shot bounced just wide.

Dembele has the unenviable task of replacing the departed Neymar and Barca's 105 million-euro man had to wait until 22 minutes from time for his debut as he replaced Gerard Deulofeu to a standing ovation.

The points were safe midway through the half when Messi and Suarez played one-twos into the box and the ball broke to Alba, with the mercurial Argentinian on hand to convert the cutback once more.

Dembele went on moments later to a round of applause from his new supporters.

Messi is now the all-time top scorer in the Catalonian derby with 17 goals.

At the Santiago Bernabeu, a much-changed Madrid paid a heavy price for a slow start as they dropped points at home for the second consecutive game.

But Barca did more than enough to sweep aside the spirited Budgerigars and now find themselves top of La Liga as one of only two sides who still hold their 100% winning record.

So fond are Espanyol of their former striker that he has a gate named after him at their stadium but on Saturday they will be hoping to take advantage of institutional instability at Barcelona to end their torrid run at the Nou Camp.


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