Barcelona 4-0 Granada CF

By BBC

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as Barcelona secured a comfortable victory over Granada to return to the top of La Liga.

The Argentine scored twice in the first 15 minutes and added another after the break to take his season’s tally to 18, as Barca made it 20 games unbeaten.

Messi put Barcelona in command with composed close-range finishes to Luis Suarez-inspired moves.

He followed up to add a 58th-minute third, before Neymar lobbed the fourth.

Victory increased Barcelona’s advantage over Real Madrid to five points – the side from the Spanish capital host Deportivo La Coruna in Zinedine Zidane’s first game in charge later on Saturday.

Barca’s hold on top spot could be short-lived as they will surrender their position if Atletico win at Celta Vigo on Sunday.

Messi broke the deadlock in the eighth minute against a side who were beaten 6-0 at the Nou Camp last season.

A clever dummy from Suarez allowed league debutant Arda Turan to thread a fine ball to the Argentine to slot home.

The second came six minutes later, as Neymar eased through before passing to Suarez, who knocked the ball down for Messi to finish.

Granada came into the contest more in the second half, with striker Isaac Success posing a threat, and David Lomban hooking a chance over the bar.

Normal service was soon resumed however, as Messi claimed his third – and 11th goal in eight La Liga appearances against Granada – following up after a dummy by Turan let in Neymar to shoot against the frame of the goal.

Neymar capped another impressive individual display by adding a fourth goal with seven minutes left thanks to a precise lob after good work by Messi and Suarez.

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique: “I made some changes now when I can and I have the chance to share out the burden.

“The key will be to get to the matches in a couple of months feeling fresh.

“I’m very satisfied with how the team played. Everybody was focused from the beginning and the players knew how important it was to win these three points.”

 

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