Match ends, Barcelona 5, Espanyol 1.
Lionel Messi matched Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo with a hat-trick this weekend as Barcelona returned to second in La Liga with victory over Espanyol.
The 27-year-old struck either side of half-time with two typically well-taken finishes to put his side ahead after Sergio Garcia's solo goal had given the visitors a surprise early lead.
After Messi's second, Barca took charge with Gerard Pique heading their third.
Pedro scored a fourth before Messi had the last word by completing the rout.
Messi's three goals - the first a pinpoint finish from the edge of the box, the second a side-foot strike after he had controlled Luis Suarez's pass and the third a tap-in following a one-two with Pedro - took him to 256 goals in La Liga in 291 appearances.
They also took him past the 200 goal mark in Spain's top flight since the 2009 arrival at Real Madrid of Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored his own 200th goal as part of a hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday night.
Ronaldo's treble was a record 23rd in La Liga, but Messi is not far behind, having now notched up his 21st in the competition.
Ronaldo still leads the goalscoring charts for this season with 29 goals in 21 appearances in all competitions (and a stunning 23 in 13 in la Liga), with Messi having now scored 20 in 19 games this campaign, 13 of which have come in the league.
Barca were once again indebted to their Argentine forward for turning the game around after Garcia had charged forward to slot Espanyol into a 13th-minute lead and give them hope of a famous victory at the home of their local rivals.
However, having claimed the lead, Barca kicked on and Pique's header from a corner and substitute Pedro's drilled finish from Jordi Alba's pass swung the game decisively in their favour before Messi added the gloss.
Real's win (their Spanish record-equalling 18th in succession in all competitions) took them five points clear of their great rivals overnight.
But Barca's victory means the gap is now back to two points, with reigning champions Atletico Madrid two points behind Luis Enrique's side in third.
- 22Alves da Silva
- 4RakiticSubstituted forIniestaat 65'minutes
- 5BusquetsSubstituted forMathieuat 82'minutes
- 9SuárezSubstituted forPedroat 70'minutes
- 1ter Stegen
- 31El Haddadi
- 23ArbillaBooked at 79mins
- 22González SoberónBooked at 69mins
- 30BaillySubstituted forGonzález Casanovaat 83'minutes
- 18Fuentes Hernández
- 17VázquezBooked at 52mins
- 14Canas Ruiz HerreraSubstituted forMorenoat 60'minutes
- 6Sevilla LópezBooked at 29mins
- 4Sánchez Mata
- 9García de la Fuente
- 20CaicedoSubstituted forStuaniat 71'minutes
- 5Álvarez Delgado
- 10González Casanova
- 16López Rodríguez
- Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Barcelona 5, Espanyol 1.
Javier Mascherano (Barcelona) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Sergio García (Espanyol).
Offside, Barcelona. Andrés Iniesta tries a through ball, but Dani Alves is caught offside.
Substitution, Espanyol. Abraham replaces Eric Bailly.
Substitution, Barcelona. Jeremy Mathieu replaces Sergio Busquets.
Goal! Barcelona 5, Espanyol 1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Pedro.
Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Salva Sevilla (Espanyol).
Anaitz Arbilla (Espanyol) is shown the yellow card.
Goal! Barcelona 4, Espanyol 1. Pedro (Barcelona) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jordi Alba.
Attempt missed. Xavi (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Andrés Iniesta.
Foul by Javier Mascherano (Barcelona).
Christian Stuani (Espanyol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Substitution, Espanyol. Christian Stuani replaces Felipe Caicedo.
Attempt missed. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high from a direct free kick.
Substitution, Barcelona. Pedro replaces Luis Suárez.
Álvaro González (Espanyol) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.