Match ends, Barcelona 5, Eibar 0.
Barcelona's emergency signing Martin Braithwaite joked he "won't wash my clothes after I hugged Lionel Messi" after setting up one of the Argentina legend's four goals in a thumping win over Eibar.
Barca were given special dispensation to sign former Middlesbrough man Braithwaite this week, and he came off the bench to play a part in late goals for Messi and Arthur that put the pressure back on title rivals Real Madrid.
"Messi congratulated me, he's a great guy and tried to make me feel comfortable on the pitch by passing to me often," the 28-year-old Dane said.
"I'm very happy to have given my first assist to Leo."
'We've made an extraordinary signing'
Messi scored three goals in 26 first-half minutes before adding a late fourth from Braithwaite's saved attempt as Barcelona moved two points above Real Madrid, who face Levante later.
After a slow start, Messi scored a sensational opener when he rounded off a brilliant solo run by chipping the ball over Eibar's Marko Dmitrovic after 14 minutes.
As half-time approached, another quick burst of pace culminated in Messi firing a second low into the corner, and the Argentina forward converted from a loose ball three minutes later to kill the contest before the break.
Eibar continued to battle in the second half as both sides had goals ruled out for offside, but the hosts finished with a flurry as Messi capped a wonderful individual performance with his fourth three minutes from time and Arthur completed the rout.
Coach Quique Setien admitted he was surprised by the impact made by his new signing.
"Braithwaite did more than I expected, much more," said Setien.
"Honestly, I think we've made an extraordinary signing. He will adapt perfectly to what we want to do, he was involved in two goals and he understands the game so well."
Reigning La Liga champions Barca face Napoli in the Champions League last-16 on Tuesday, before travelling to the Bernabeu to face Real Madrid on Sunday.
- 1ter Stegen
- 2Nélson Semedo
- 3PiquéSubstituted forUmtitiat 68'minutes
- 5BusquetsSubstituted forde Jongat 59'minutes
- 17GriezmannSubstituted forBraithwaiteat 72'minutes
- 21de Jong
- 31Ansu Fati
- 15Valdés Díaz
- 8DiopBooked at 85mins
- 10ExpósitoSubstituted forCristóforoat 83'minutes
- 5EscalanteBooked at 64mins
- 22InuiSubstituted forDe Blasisat 66'minutes
- 9EnrichSubstituted forGonzález Casínat 66'minutes
- 7González Casín
- 12Rodrigues de Oliveira
- 16De Blasis
- César Soto Grado
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Barcelona 5, Eibar 0.
Goal! Barcelona 5, Eibar 0. Arthur (Barcelona) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom right corner.
Attempt saved. Martin Braithwaite (Barcelona) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Arthur.
Goal! Barcelona 4, Eibar 0. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner.
Pape Diop (Eibar) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Martin Braithwaite (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Pape Diop (Eibar).
Substitution, Eibar. Sebastián Cristóforo replaces Edu Expósito.
Offside, Barcelona. Samuel Umtiti tries a through ball, but Arturo Vidal is caught offside.
Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Álvaro Tejero.
Hand ball by Cote (Eibar).
Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Marko Dmitrovic.
Attempt saved. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Cote (Eibar).
Hand ball by Álvaro Tejero (Eibar).
Attempt blocked. Fabián Orellana (Eibar) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Edu Expósito.
Offside, Eibar. Cote tries a through ball, but Fabián Orellana is caught offside.
Offside, Barcelona. Lionel Messi tries a through ball, but Clément Lenglet is caught offside.