Lionel Messi scored twice and missed a penalty as Barcelona stretched their 100 per cent record in Spain’s La Liga to four games with a 4-1 win over Levante on Sunday. The European champions lead Real Madrid, Villarreal and Celta Vigo by two points with Atletico Madrid a point further adrift in fifth.
Levante frustrated an experimental Barça side shorn of Luis Suarez from the start for 50 minutes before Marc Bartra settled the Catalans’ nerves from Messi’s cross. The floodgates then opened as Neymar doubled the advantage before Messi converted his first effort from the spot.
Victor Casadesus pulled a goal back for Levante 24 minutes from time as he pounced on an error from Barça goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Messi then missed a penalty for the second time this season, but made amends with a stunning individual effort to round off the scoring.
Earlier, UEFA Europa League holders Sevilla’s terrible start to their La Liga season continued as Celta Vigo climbed into fourth with a 2-1 win at the Sanchez Pizjuan. Villarreal moved into third with a convincing 3-1 win over a depleted Athletic Bilbao.
And Sporting Gijon claimed their first victory since returning to the top flight with a 3-2 win in a thrilling encounter away at Deportivo la Coruna. In a match that ran concurrently alongside Barcelona’s victory, Real Vallecano registered a 1-0 win against Las Palmas.