Three goals in eight first-half minutes set Barcelona on their way to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Sevilla to move top of LaLiga.
Lionel Messi was inspirational upon his return from suspension as Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 win over Sevilla to move back above Real Madrid at LaLiga’s summit for a few hours at least.
The champions’ talisman missed the 4-1 defeat of Granada last time out due to an accumulation of yellow cards, but more than made up for lost time in Wednesday’s resounding success at Camp Nou with a brace and an assist.
Messi was instrumental as Barca assumed complete control with a devastating eight-minute spell midway through the first half, setting up the opener for Luis Suarez with a trademark darting run down the right before netting twice himself.
Perhaps with their hectic April schedule in mind, there was a noticeable let-up in intensity from Barca in the second period, but there was never any danger of a Sevilla comeback as their miserable record against the Catalan giants was extended to one win from their last 20 meetings.
The win sends Barca perhaps only momentarily back to the top of the table, one point above Madrid, who travel to struggling Leganes later on Wednesday.
It was another damaging defeat for Sevilla, who had Vitolo sent off in stoppage time for a second bookable offence and are now three points behind Atletico Madrid in the race for the third and final automatic Champions League qualification berth.
Sevilla’s six-match winless run in all competitions is their worst under Jorge Sampaoli and they almost found themselves behind within four minutes as Messi crashed a shot against the underside of the crossbar from 20 yards with Sergio Rico motionless.