Barcelona's Copa del Rey match against city rival Espanyol Wednesday was supposed to be about the long-awaited club debuts of Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal, who are finally eligible to play after the club's transfer ban expired. Naturally, the one player used to the spotlight snagged it from them in his typical fashion.
Lionel Messi delivered a pair of goals in the first half, including one off a blistering free kick, to bring Barcelona back from an early deficit and lead the side to a 4-1 win over a side that was reduced to nine men by the end of the first leg of their last-16 encounter.
Messi, who is a finalist to win the Ballon d'Or and Puskas Award (for a goal in the final of last season's Copa del Rey, no less) on Monday in Zurich, ran onto a pinpoint pass from Andres Iniesta and scored from the center of the box in the 13th minute before pinging his free kick off the underside of the crossbar just before halftime to nudge Barcelona ahead.
After Gerard Pique scored in the 49th minute, Messi capped off the day with an assist to fellow Ballon d'Or finalist Neymar in the 88th, putting Espanyol in a deep hole.
Watch Messi's goals below:
The return leg is next Wednesday at Espanyol.