Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick and created another two goals as Barcelona thrashed Emmanuel Boateng’s Levante to regain a three-point lead at the top of La Liga.
The Black Stars forward put a great performance despite the heavy defeat and was constant threat to the Barcelona backline until he was substituted just past the hour mark.
The hosts started brightly with Boateng smashing a shot against the crossbar in the 32nd minute. He also came close with a low, drilled effort towards the near post which Marc-Andre ter Stegen had to stoop to keep out, before Messi’s intervention.
Messi set up Luis Suarez for the opening goal before scoring a hat-trick as Ernesto Valverde’s side made amends for their shock defeat at Ciutat de Valencia last May.
Levante’s already slim hopes of replicating last season’s scoreline disappeared when they lost Erick Cabaco to a red card 14 minutes from the end.
Instead Gerard Pique helped himself to the fifth, wandering the length of the field exchanging passes as he went before wrapping up the scoring.