Lionel Messi dazzled on his way to another career record as Luis Suarez hit a hat-trick in Barcelona's 6-1 demolition of Girona.
Messi notched a superb brace and has now scored against 36 opponents in Spain's top flight – more than any other player in the competition's history.
Ninth-placed Girona have made waves in their debut LaLiga season and Pablo Machin's side drew first blood at Camp Nou through Portu, the forward adding to goals against Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Valencia this term.
Barca's response was brilliant, with Messi running through his full repertoire to put their Catalan neighbours in their place and move on to 30 in all competitions this season.
A 10-point lead over Atletico Madrid – who face a tricky trip to Sevilla on Sunday – was essentially secured by half-time, but Philippe Coutinho spectacular first league strike for the Blaugrana and Suarez's treble gave the home faithful further reason to revel.
It was the first time Messi, Suarez, Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele were named in the same starting XI by Ernesto Valverde, but there is little doubt over who remains the master.
36 - Lionel Messi has now scored against more different teams than any other player in La Liga history, surpassing Raul Gonzalez and Aritz Aduriz (35). Genie. pic.twitter.com/zjEPCuHAVU— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 24, 2018
Ivan Rakitic picked the wrong moment to get involved in the showboating spirit of Barcelona's all-star line-up when his ill-advised backheel led to Girona's third-minute opener.
Girona scythed forward on the break and, although Aday Benitez appeared to have overrun the ball, hesitation between Barca centre-back Samuel Umtiti and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen allowed Portu to steal in and finish well from a narrow angle.
The home side responded instantly – Messi rolling a typically perfect throughball for Suarez to slot home.
The Argentinian superstar soon clicked into virtuoso mode with some sumptuous passing and, when Suarez returned the favour of his earlier assist, Bernardo Espinosa scampered back to head Messi's chip off the line.
Bono's efforts were not so robust after half an hour as Messi twisted back inside Jonas Ramalho and Juanpe. The resulting shot was struck firmly enough but the Girona goalkeeper should have done better than parrying into his bottom right corner.
Barca's talisman seemed determined to turn Bono's night into an ordeal and he clipped a cute free-kick under a jumping defensive wall to make it 3-1.
Girona kept coming and Ter Stegen saved sharply from Anthony Lozano's header, but a blistering break orchestrated by Messi allowed Coutinho to tee up Suarez for a simple finish.
There was no let-up from Valverde's side and Rakitic and Dembele combined for Suarez to hit the outside of the post in pursuit of his hat-trick after 54 minutes.
Dembele shifted inside Espinoza to come agonisingly close to a confidence-boosting goal before Gerard Pique was allowed to rest for the final half hour, having again hobbled through portions of the action.
3 - Players with most goals scored from outside the box in Europe’s top five leagues in last five seasons:— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 24, 2018
Lionel Messi 29
PHILIPPE COUTINHO 19
Cristiano Ronaldo 19
Coutinho brought Camp Nou to its feet with a trademark curler from 25 yards midway through the second half.
Bono finally bested Messi by tipping his latest free-kick away from the top corner and touched a late header from substitute Thomas Vermaelan on to the bar.
But he had to pick a ball that now belongs to Suarez out of his net one last time in the 77th minute – Dembele charging down the right channel and crossing for the Uruguay striker to do the rest.
Barca finished the game with 10 when, after making all three substitutions, right-back Nelson Semedo limped off with an apparent hamstring injury.
Key Opta stats:
- Luis Suarez has scored 15 goals in his last 12 La Liga matches, all of them assisted by a team-mate and all of them coming from inside the box.
- Lionel Messi has scored 30 or more goals in each of his last 10 seasons for Barcelona in all competitions (30 in 2017-18).
- Portu is the only player to score against Barcelona, Atletico and Real Madrid in La Liga this season.
|Croatia cut Messi off in Argentina thrashing - Modric|
|Pogba: Kante, Matuidi have 15 lungs|
|Julian Nagelsmann: the Bundesliga prodigy swapping Hoffenheim for RB Leipzig|
|England dominate in Durham to close in on series whitewash|
|´Fortunate´ Federer closes in on Halle title|
|Calamity Caballero and Sampaoli tinkerings leave Argentina a broken mess|
|Wimbledon champion Muguruza confident despite Birmingham defeat|
|Argentina 0 Croatia 3: Caballero drops clanger as Messi´s men are stunned|
|Funes Mori departs Everton to join Villarreal|
|Djokovic beats Dimitrov as Kyrgios lays down a marker|
|Relegated Verona appoint World Cup winner Grosso|
|Trotz named Islanders´ new coach|
|Matic and Serbia ready for ´hellish´ Switzerland clash|
|Fleetwood flounders as Gros takes Pulheim lead|
|No attacks on Neymar, pledges Costa Rica boss Ramirez|
|Giroud return brings structure to France, but again they disappoint|
|Brighton sign Sunderland goalkeeper Steele|
|Schmeichel and Eriksen blast ´exceptionally harsh´ VAR penalty|
|Nigeria´s young World Cup squad learning on the job - Rohr|
|Moody: England players need protection|
|France 1 Peru 0: Mbappe books last-16 spot with record goal|
|I don´t need anyone to hold my hand - Verstappen|
|Captaincy comes back around to Silva as 2014 pain fades|
|We don´t want to be losers - Petkovic|
|Alba not interested in Barcelona exit as Tottenham rumours swirl|
|BREAKING NEWS: Nagelsmann to take RB Leipzig role in 2019|
|Messi cannot be compared to Maradona, claims Argentina World Cup winner Kempes|
|Mbappe sets France record with maiden World Cup strike|
|Federer comes through tough Halle test|
|Nagelsmann to leave Hoffenheim amid RB Leipzig rumours|
|Gerrard brings former Liverpool team-mate Flanagan to Rangers|
|Cipriani to be ´the calmest guy in the room´ on England return|
|C´est magnifique! Lloris earns 100th France cap|
|Belgium v Tunisia: Hazard hoping for World Cup lift off|
|WATCH: Manchester United ditch piano to welcome Fred the red|
|Hamann springs to defence of Ozil|
|Alonso non-committal on future after Le Mans triumph|
|McInally returns to Scotland starting line-up|
|Giroud & Matuidi start as Deschamps drops Dembele for Peru|
|Torreira focused on Uruguay amid Arsenal links|
|NBA Mock Draft 2018: Deandre Ayton leads intriguing first round|
|Tite will not take away Neymar´s ´genius´|
|Australia show promise but calls for Cahill ignored amid lack of cutting edge|
|Manchester United means greatness - Fred aiming for titles following Old Trafford switch|
|Denmark 1 Australia 1: Jedinak strikes back after Eriksen rocket|
|Neymar not being put at risk by Brazil, says Tite|
|Juventus complete signing of free agent Emre Can|
|Fred completes Manchester United switch|
|Dembele will not join a Spurs rival|
|What were the 0.4 per cent doing? Iceland captain marvels at TV audience|
|Forsberg ready for ´next big step´ after RB Leipzig|
|´Retired´ Brits on bench as Springboks ring changes for final Test|
|Meninga: Key Kangaroos positions up for grabs in Origin|
|FIFA gets shirty over Ronaldo claims|
|Soyuncu keen on Arsenal switch|
|Atmosphere much better after criticism, says Hummels|
|FIFA issues statement after ´questionable´ Amrabat decision|
|Cipriani and Robshaw to start for England at Newlands|
|Team Sky hit back at Hinault´s ´irresponsible´ Froome comments|
|Iran fans are the real winners as women get glimpse of the future|
|Beckham predicts England-Argentina World Cup final|
|Napoli should sign Meret, Zenga claims|
|Meticulous Mouratoglou shaping stars of the future|
|Journalist hands Khedira boarding pass for early flight home|
|Germany v Sweden: Muller upbeat ahead of huge World Cup clash|
|South Korea v Mexico: Germany´s conquerors set for role reversal|
|Chandimal appeals against one-match ban|
|Fofana and Lamerat start, Parra skipper for final All Blacks Test|
|Asia and Africa being left behind - Queiroz|
|Emre Can arrives for Juventus medical|