Lionel Messi was in inspirational form as he scored four goals to lead Barcelona to a crushing 6-1 LaLiga win over Eibar on Tuesday, continuing their 100 per cent start to the campaign.
Barca coach Ernesto Valverde was without the injured Ousmane Dembele after the club's record signing was ruled out for up to four months with a torn hamstring and he opted to rest several regulars such as Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic, but that mattered little as Messi stepped up and produced an irresistible performance.
Barca were actually quite sluggish during the early exchanges, but they soon clicked into gear broke the deadlock, as Messi stylishly converted a penalty 20 minutes in to take his 2017 tally to 40 goals in as many games.
Paulinho, making his first LaLiga start, then answered his critics again just before the break, heading in Barcelona's second of the contest to add to his winning goal at Getafe on Saturday.
Denis Suarez got Barca's first at Getafe and he followed Paulinho's lead in scoring for the second successive game with a smart finish inside the near post early in the second half, just a few moments before Sergi Enrich pulled one back.
But Messi then stepped up, scoring twice in quick succession to blow Eibar away and complete his hat-trick - his second of the season after putting three past Espanyol.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was not done there as he added a sixth three minutes from the end to leave Eibar on the end of a truly emphatic hammering.
Barcelona came out to an expectant Camp Nou crowd donning shirts with "courage Ousmane" emblazoned across the front following Dembele's injury at Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
But the supporters were given cause for concern just three minutes in, when David Junca's curled pass picked out the run of Enrich in behind Gerard Pique, only for the striker to hit a tame effort at Marc-Andre ter Stegen when one-on-one.
Barca duly punished that miss, as Messi nonchalantly tucked away a spot kick after Alex Galvez clumsily sent the impressive Nelson Semedo tumbling.
40 - Lionel Messi has scored 40 goals in his 40 games for Barcelona in 2017 (all competitions). Alien.— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 19, 2017
Marko Dmitrovic denied Messi nine minutes before the break, palming a stinging 20-yard drive around the post.
But the goalkeeper was helpless from the resulting corner as Paulinho charged into the danger zone and met Denis Suarez's delivery with an unstoppable header.
Barca looked more impressive after the break and were fully deserving of their third goal.
Paulinho initially did well to release Messi, who dazzled the Eibar defence and got a shot away, with Dmitrovic parrying it straight to Denis Suarez to tuck away.
Enrich pulled one back with a clever cushioned finish from Junca's cross shortly after in the 57th minute, but all that seemed to do was jolt Barca into life again.
Messi took centre-stage, restoring Barca's three-goal cushion with a fine placed finish into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the box, following a delightful move which involved Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta.
And he then completed his hat-trick with 27 minutes to go, charging in from the right-hand side of the penalty area and prodding an effort beyond Dmitrovic.
Leo Messi— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 19, 2017
Eibar nearly got a second when Ruben Pena hit the post late on, but Messi soon showed them how it should be done, as he met Aleix Vidal's cut-back and guided a finish into the far side of the net to wrap up a crushing win.
Key Opta stats:
- Lionel Messi has scored his 28th hat-trick in LaLiga. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (32) has scored more than him.
- Messi has scored nine goals in the first five games of a LaLiga season, his best start in terms of goals scored at this stage.
- Messi has scored his 300th goal for Barcelona at the Camp Nou (all competitions).
- Paulinho has scored two goals for Barcelona with his first two shots on target (all competitions).
|I´ve never considered leaving PSG, insists Draxler|
|Leicester City 0 Crystal Palace 3: Benteke, Eagles end drought|
|AC Milan´s Fassone requests UEFA help over FFP|
|AC Milan have ´no intention´ of selling Donnarumma|
|Bravo sees no way back into West Indies set-up|
|Reggie Bush ´done´ with NFL career|
|A-League Review: Jets keep up pressure, Wanderers get rare win|
|I´m just happy I have all my fingers - Kvitova reflects on rollercoaster 2017|
|Schalke send Coke on loan to Levante|
|Man Utd´s Matic refuses to concede in Premier League title race|
|Mourinho: I don´t like a circus when you win|
|Keita won´t arrive in January, says Klopp|
|Embiid gets last word after verbal altercation with Westbrook|
|Bring on the noise! Pochettino´s Spurs want to ´kill´ Man City|
|Beat Madrid and PSG can go all the way, Djorkaeff claims|
|Farbrace recognises England´s limitations amid Perth punishment|
|Marsh century leaves family with full hearts and fuller bladders|
|Icardi to Real Madrid? Nara will not say yes or no|
|The Ashes Round-up: Smith and Marsh torment England|
|Smith and Marsh gorge themselves as England put to the sword|
|Ronaldo proud to compete with Messi|
|Wenger struggling to solve Arsenal goal drought|
|Smith brings up double hundred as England toil|
|Marsh posts maiden Test century as Australia take lead|
|Pique wants to face Guardiola, City in Champions League final|
|Westbrook´s triple-double powers Thunder past 76ers|
|Smith shines as Australia pass 300 in Perth|
|Tevez nearing Boca Juniors return|
|Rangers acquire Moore from Giants|
|Ronaldo? I was better, says Gremio coach Renato|
|Pique: I understood why Neymar left Barca for PSG|
|Celtics´ Hayward open to returning this season|
|Klopp: We´re all fighting for second place|
|Every player has a price – Mourinho hints at January exits|
|Good question! Guardiola ducks Sanchez link and lauds Walker|
|Six-try Ulster see off Harlequins|
|Guardiola addresses Mourinho´s tactical foul claims|
|Call the doctor! Conte protests no malice in David Luiz absence|
|Joy for Newcastle on a historic night for referee Neville|
|Sheffield Wednesday 0 Wolves 1: Brilliant Neves fires leaders seven clear|
|Premier League title City´s to lose, but Sterling wary of United charge|
|Barcelona´s Deulofeu a Clasico doubt after training injury|
|Bills QB Taylor to start v Dolphins|
|O´Mahony and Furlong sign new IRFU contracts|
|Salah ´is a player I rate a lot´, says Zidane|
|Allardyce lauds ´invaluable´ Rooney|
|Ramos fit for Club World Cup final|
|Lille sack Bielsa to end failed experiment|
|Manchester United job like Real Madrid, says Mourinho|
|Fernandinho is much better than I was, Guardiola claims|
|That Harry Kane team? – I´m over Guardiola dig, says Pochettino|
|Tuilagi and Toomua return to Leicester line-up|
|Mourinho open to January moves as Griezmann rumours swirl|
|Berizzo set for Sevilla return after cancer surgery|
|Malinga left out of Sri Lanka´s T20 squad|
|Manchester City will not go unbeaten in Premier League - Guardiola|
|Man City are the best – Pochettino braced for Spurs´ toughest test|
|Kristaps Porzingis injury update: Knicks big man says knee ´shouldn´t´ be bad|
|Conte hopeful over David Luiz´s ´serious´ knee injury|
|Neymar not an injury risk after Brazil trip - Emery|
|Bailly to miss three months due to ankle surgery|
|Klopp defends Liverpool rotation policy|
|Arsenal fan Prince Harry´s wedding day to clash with FA Cup final|
|He´s one of the best – Simeone showers Oblak with praise|
|Juventus won´t sell in-demand Pjaca, agent claims|
|Bolasie in line for Everton return after long-term injury|
|Bedene to switch back from Britain to Slovenia|
|Maradona told Real Madrid to sign Mbappe|
|Samuels out of NZ tour, Narine to miss T20s|
|Sydney FC 3 Melbourne City 1: Champions come from behind to go eight points clear|