Lionel Messi netted a hat-trick as Barcelona smashed Levante 5-0 on Sunday to remain top of La Liga.
Messi was instrumental in all five of Barca’s goals against a Levante side who played with ten men after Erick Cabaco was given his marching orders, while the Catalans kept three consecutive clean sheets in the League for the first time since March.
Levante, meanwhile, had gone four games without defeat and famously beat Barca 5-4 on the penultimate day of last season to end their hopes of a perfect Liga campaign.
However, Valverde’s men had other ideas this time around as Messi took the game by the scruff of the neck to annihilate Levante.
With the likes of Atletico Madrid and Sevilla breathing down the neck of the Catalan giants, the race for the La Liga title is set to go down the wire with most pundits predicting a cagey affair.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 16, 2018Diego Simeone wouldn't discuss Thursday's bombshell that Antoine Griezmann negotiated a hefty commission for signing with Barcelona while still at Atletico Madrid.
Levante 0-5 Barcelona
Cabaco sent off 76 (L) Suarez 35, Messi 43, 47, 60, Pique 88 (B)
Levante: Oier; Rober, Postigo (Prcic 70), Cabaco; Jason, Bardhi, Campana, Tono; Rochina (Coke 69), Boateng (Mayoral 62), Morales
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Pique, Lenglet, Vermaelen (Arthur 52); Vidal (Coutinho 78), Rakitic, Busquets, Alba; Messi, Suarez, Dembele (Denis 81)
Referee: Gonzalez Gonzalez