Ernesto Valverde hails "extraordinary" hat-trick hero Lionel Messi

12 September, 2017, 00:36 | Author: Douglas Reid
  • Messi celebrates scoring against Espanyol during their Spanish league match in Barcelona Saturday. — Reuters

Messi set Barca on their way with the opening goal after 26 minutes, although he looked to have been offside when collecting a pass from Ivan Rakitic before sidestepping his marker and lashing the ball into the top corner.

With Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez occupying the other two positions in the attacking trio, it's going to take something extremely special for Deulofeu to stay in the starting XI.

Espanyol almost pulled a goal back just before the break when Pablo Piatti rattled the upright from the edge of the box.

Five-time Ballon d'Or victor was in fine form, opening the scoring in the 26th minute, following up again ten minutes later, utilising expert service from Jordi Alba, sealing his hat-trick with more than 20 minutes remaining.

With 20 minutes left of the game, Ernesto Valverde drafted on Barcelona's £97 million man.

"We can't be happy with our performance", said Real manager Zinedine Zidane.

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"The season is long, but it's been going well for us".

Man of the match - Lionel Messi It was a flawless showing from Messi whose technique and vision were a microcosm of everything we've come to expect from the Argentine.

A frantic finish saw Bale head inches wide from Isco's cross at the back post four minutes from time.

The goalkeeper's best save came from a low-struck effort from Marcelo, who in frustration rolled to the floor, kicking Levante's Jefferson Lerma in the process and earning a straight red card in the 89th minute.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Madrid still almost grabbed all three points as Toni Kroos's effort from the edge of the area clipped the outside of the post.

Earlier Saturday, Atletico drew 0-0 with Valencia at Mestalla Stadium.



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