Watch: Messi's Hat Trick Leads Barcelona in 5-0 Rout of Espanyol
On a day when Real Madrid dropped points by drawing Levante 1-1, Lionel Messi did his part to ensure that Barcelona would take advantage of their rivals' struggles. Atletico Madrid also failed to win as Diego Simeone's team tied 0-0 with Valencia at Mestalla, allowing Ernesto Valeverde's Barca to make a statement.
Messi answered the call and scored a hat trick to lead Barcelona to an easy 5-0 victory over fellow Catalan club Espanyol.
The 30-year-old opened the scoring in the 26th minute despite the fact that he might have been offside, but it was vintage Messi—finding an inch of space in the box and not wasting the chance.
The Argentine's second goal also won't find a place on Messi's greatest goal list, but they all count the same.
To seat the hat trick, Messi slotted home a lovely pass from Ivan Rakitic. It was his 42nd career hat trick and 38th for Barcelona.
Gerard Pique made it four, three minutes before new signing Ousmane Dembélé came on a substitute. He had a great outing, collecting his first assist for his new club as he set up Luis Suarez for the fifth goal.
Barca has now won all three of its La Liga games and sits atop the table with nine points, two points ahead of Sevilla. In addition, Valverde's team has yet to concede a goal. Real has five points after three games, giving Barcelona a early head start in what is sure to be a season-long title race.