Sports / Soccer

Messi and Barca put on five-star show in Levante mauling

(Agencies) Updated: 2014-09-22 13:17

Messi and Barca put on five-star show in Levante mauling

Barcelona's Lionel Messi (C) fights for the ball with Levante's Loukas Vyntra (L) and Tono Garcia during their Spanish first division soccer match at the Ciudad de Valencia stadium in Valencia, September 21, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

BARCELONA - Lionel Messi completed a sparkling performance by chipping the goalkeeper from the edge of the area as Barcelona swept aside ten-man Levante 5-0 away on Sunday to continue their winning start at the top of La Liga.

The Argentine set up Neymar, who rounded keeper Jesus Fernandez for the opening goal and Barca doubled their lead before the break after a fierce shot by Ivan Rakitic from 25 metres.

In between Messi had been brought down in the penalty area by Loukas Vyntra, who was red-carded, but having picked himself up the striker missed his spot kick.

After the restart Messi provided another assist, this time for substitute Sandro Ramirez to finish clinically and Pedro knocked in another after the ball was pulled back by Jordi Alba.

Messi then got on the scoresheet as he lifted the ball over Fernandez, who was off his line following a poor clearance.

Barca have 12 points from 12 so far under new boss Luis Enrique.

"We managed to overcome some errors and counter-attacks. Overall I am happy as we scored goals and we know it is never easy the weekend after Champions League games," Luis Enrique told a news conference.

"This is only the fourth game and we will have see where we are later on in the season. We always try to open up games and how we do that depends on factors including the opposition and their virtues. We managed to deal with the threat (from Levante) and we worked well as a team."

Croatia's Rakitic struck his first goal since arriving at Barca this season from Sevilla and knew that Levante would not be easy opponents.

"Thankfully the chance fell to me and the ball went in. In the dressing room they were starting to joke about me not scoring but obviously the most important thing is to win," he told reporters.

"We knew that this would be a difficult ground to come to and so it is a valuable victory. The second goal made it easier for us as did the dismissal."


On Saturday, Cristiano Ronaldo hit his 27th career hat-trick for seventh-placed Real Madrid in a 8-2 away thrashing of Deportivo La Coruna while champions Atletico Madrid in third were held 2-2 at home by Celta Vigo.

Carlos Bacca bagged two and Stephane M'Bia got the other as Sevilla went second on Sunday with a 3-1 victory at promoted Cordoba whose consolation came from Borja Garcia.

In Valencia, Luis Enrique opted for a more experienced lineup and left several of his starlets including Munir El Haddadi on the bench with Neymar starting instead of him in attack.

Jeremy Mathieu has arrived to reinforce the Barca defence this season but he was caught out early on as Jose Luis Morales skipped past him and only a last ditch clearance from Rakitic on the goalline prevented the ball from reaching Victor Casadesus for an easy finish.

Alba got forward well for Barca but there was no one to convert his cross in the Levante penalty area while Neymar steered a header wide with the goal gaping.

Neymar did score 10 minutes later and the game went further away from Levante with Vyntra sent off after bringing down Messi for the penalty which the Barca striker failed to convert.

Rakitic's pile-driver added gloss to the first half and the floodgates opened in the Levante defence after the break.

Sandro and Pedro both finished well before Messi showed poise and vision to clip the ball over the stranded Fernandez for the final goal and complete a miserable night for the Levante keeper.

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