Lionel Messi dazzled as FC Barcelona returned to La Liga action with an emphatic 4-0 win at Mallorca.
The Argentine wizard scored once and added two assists as Quique Setien’s side stretched their lead at the top over rivals Real Madrid to five points.
After a three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, it did not take long for the champions to seize the advantage, Arturo Vidal’s diving header after a minute put them ahead at the Son Moix.
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Danish international Martin Braithwaite scored his first goal for the club to double the lead before a classic Messi-Jordi Alba combination saw the flying left-back add a third with 11 minutes remaining.
Messi then grabbed one for himself in stoppage time via a deflection, bringing up the 20-goal milestone for the 12th consecutive season.
Alba then insisted while the win was pleasing, the focus is now on the final 10 games which are all “must-win”.
“We controlled the game and it was a great performance after not competing for three months,” Alba said.
“We now have 10 must-win games to go and we are really looking forward to them.”
Despite no fans due to restrictions in place to limit the spread of Covid-19, a fan wearing an Argentina shirt somehow entered the pitch before being escorted away.
While Luis Suarez made a return off the bench following six months out with a knee injury.
Attention in La Liga now turns to Real Madrid, who will be desperate to close the gap to two points with a match against Eibar at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium, which will be their temporary home for the remainder of the season while work is completed at the Santiago Bernabeu.
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