Barcelona and Messi cruised to a win in the Catalan derby as they ran out 4-1 winners at the Camp Nou against an Espanyol side who were in good form coming into the match with seven clean sheets in their last nine, but they had only won once in 33 Catalan derbies before this evenings encounter.
Seven minutes on the clock and Barcelona had their first sight of goal, Suarez neatly turned his man on the half way line before releasing Neymar down the left and he spotted Messi arriving at the back post but th Argentine was stretching and only managed to hit the side netting.
Espanyol were struggling to keep tabs on Barcelona’s nippy front three and had two players in the book inside the first 15 minutes, and it wasn’t long until the quality of the home side unlocked the defence of the away team as Iniesta floated a lovely diagonal ball from well inside his own half to Luis Suarez, who brought the ball down with a sublime touch which took the ball away from the defender and put him in on goal and there was no surprise when the former Liverpool man slotted past Diego Lopez.
Barcelona continued to dominate the first half of the game and gave Espanyol very little sight of the ball and they almost got through again towards the closing stages of the first period as the midfield and forwards combined with a number of one touch passes but the defence of Espanyol stayed strong and cut out the opportunity.
So after a slow first half in terms of chances created, Barcelona came out for the second half and went straight on the hunt for the second and it all almost came straight from the restart, Messi cut in from the right hand side before sliding the ball through to Suarez who was in on goal but Lopez was quick to close down the angle and stop Suarez trying to squeeze the ball in at his front post.
Then came two goals in a matter of minutes thanks to some Lionel Messi magic, first he picked the ball up outside the penalty area before beating around five Espanyol players, nut-megging two in the process before shooting straight at the goalkeeper but he fumbled the shot and Suarez had an easy tap in for his second of the night.
Then just minutes after Messi found himself in the exact same position and again went to take on the whole Espanyol defence, and he managed to beat almost all of them before the ball broke for Jordi Alba free in the box and he grabbed himself a goal but it was Messi who was being congratulated by his team mates after another fantastic dribble.
Espanyol did manage to grab a consolation after they went on the counter attack and a neat move was finished off by defender David Lopez who swept the ball into the top left corner.
But it wouldn’t be a Barcelona performance without a Lionel Messi goal and he got his goal a minute before the end, and it was definitely worth the wait. He broke down the right with acres of room to run into and chose to play the ball to Suarez who chipped the ball back over the defence to Messi who cheekily placed the ball through the goalkeepers legs and got his well earned goal.
The win takes Luis Enrique’s team to within three points of leaders Real Madrid who do have a game in hand going into the winter break.