Barcelona: Bravo; Dani Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Jordi Alba; Rakitic (Iniesta 65‘), Busquets (Mathieu 83‘), Xavi; Luis Suárez (Pedro 70’), Messi, Neymar. 4-3-3.
Espanyol: Kiko Casilla; Arbilla, Alvaro, Eric Bailly (Abraham 83‘), Fuentes; Lucas Vázquez, Víctor Sánchez, Cañas (Héctor Moreno 60‘), Salva Sevilla; Sergio García, Caicedo (Stuani 71‘). 4-4-2.
0-1. 13. Sergio García. Picked up ball outside area and cut in to beat Bravo.
1-1. 45. Messi. Curled shot wide of Casilla after Xavi laid ball back to him.
2-1. 50. Messi. Collected Luis Suárez centre and ran on to shoot past keeper.
3-1. 53. Piqué. Got above defence to head Rakitic corner down past keeper.
4-1. 77. Pedro. Controlled long Jordi Alba pass and struck angled shot in to net.
5-1. 81. Messi. Connected with Pedro’s return pass to fire shot wide of Casilla.
Yellow cards: Salva Sevilla 29’, Lucas Vázquez 52’, Alvaro 69’, Arbilla 79’.
Barcelona kept pace with their two big rivals after a 5-1 victory over city neighbours Espanyol on Sunday afternoon, the win restoring them to second place and maintaining the two point gap behind leaders Real Madrid. Sergio García gave the visitors an early lead, cutting in to beat Bravo after Caicedo won the ball off Busquets, and both he and Víctor Sánchez had chances to add to the scoreline on quick breakaways later in the first half. Messi fired a free kick against the bar though, and Piqué, Luis Suárez and Jordi Alba all went close before Messi latched on to Xavi’s pass to curl a shot past Kiko Casilla on the stroke of half time. Some five minutes after the restart Messi added a second, battling past two defenders after collecting a centre from Luis Suárez, and three minutes later Piqué headed in a Rakitic corner, the first they have scored from in nine months. That ended Espanyol’s resistance, and Pedro came on to score a fourth after picking up a long ball from Jordi Alba, and then to lay back a return pass for Messi to complete his hat-trick with ten minutes to go.