Barcelona v Espanyol - story of the match

Tricia Pearson
September 11, 2017

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.

Earlier, Real paid for the absence of the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo and a series of missed chances by Gareth Bale as they were held to a shock 1-1 home draw by newly-promoted Levante.

Despite the speculation, Messi has already struck 5 goals for Barcelona, making him the leading La Liga goalscorer by a 3-goal margin already, after just 3 games.

Messi opened scoring in the 26th minute amid suspicion of offside and doubled the lead 10 minutes before the break.

Espanyol's Pablo Piatti was unlucky not to pull a goal back when his sweetly-struck left-footed volley came back off the post just before half-time.

Suarez was back in the Barcelona line-up despite an injury scare while on global duty but was not enjoying himself in front of goal as much as Messi.

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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.

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

The Argentine maestro was found by Alba inside the area after being fed by Suarez following strong hold-up play, and the 30-year-old made no mistake in dispatching his effort into the bottom right-hand corer to secure his third of the night. Alba cut the ball back and Messi was in the right place to stab it wide of goalkeeper Pau Lopez. That remains to be seen at the end of the match.

- Lionel Messi (18) is the all-time top scorer in Catalonian derbies in LaLiga.

For all Barca's off-field problems, Ernesto Valverde's men have taken the maximum points from their opening three games.

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