Messi looked in top form against Levante. Reuters

Sparked by three goals from Lionel Messi, host Barcelona beat Levante 5-0 in a La Liga matchup at Camp Nou on Sunday. Barca, who are in second-place in La Liga, never looked like they were troubled by their 19th-place opponents.

The opening goal of the match was a beauty. Messi lofted a perfect pass to winger Neymar who had gotten behind the Levante backline and was wide open. Neymar shot the ball directly off the Messi cross, looping it over Levante keeper Diego Marino, down under the crossbar and just past the goal line, moving the score to 1-0 in the 17th minute.

Barcelona controlled the match and looked like they might score at any moment. There was a lull in scoring however and it looked like the first half might end 1-0.

Then Barca’s star Messi moved the score to 2-0 in the 38th minute. The Argentine forward collected a through pass from central defender Marc Bartra, cut to right and slipped a shot behind the keeper to the lower left corner of the goal. Bartra started the play with a nice anticipation steal of the ball near the box. The half ended at 2-0 and with Messi already accounting for a goal and an assist.

The second half started with the Catalans again dominating Levante. Messi nearly added another goal in the 54th minute, if not for a well-read stop on a one-on-one by keeper Marino. Barca steadily kept possesion and waited for the next chance to score.

A third breakthrough came in the 59th minute. Barcelona had been keeping possesion around the Levante box when Messi scored to moved make the tally 3-0. Pedro assisted on the play, knocking down a lofted through-ball across the box and directly to Messi, who tapped it in for his second goal of the game.

The Argentine star would soon add a third. Barcelona were awarded a penalty kick on a foul by Levante right back Iván López in the 64th minute. Messi comfortably scored to the lower right corner on the penalty attempt to make the score 4-0.

Perhaps the goal of the match came in the 73rd minute from Barca striker Luiz Suárez. The Uruguyan one-timed a cross with an acrobatic bicycle-kick finish to make the score 5-0.

Barca came into the match in top form, having won five-straight league matches (10-straight victories across all competitions), the latest coming in a confident 5-2 victory over Athletic Bilbao. Sunday’s win left the Catalan club just one point behind Real Madrid, who sit atop La Liga’s table. Barca were without defender Dani Alves (suspension for accumulated yellow cards) and Andrés Iniesta (flu) on Sunday but looked untroubled by the absences.

Barcelona’s next match will be a home league contest atCamp Nou against Malaga on Feb. 21. Levante will take on La Liga opponent Granada at home on Feb. 23.

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