Lionel Messi may have just scored the best free-kick of his career

Lionel Messi may have just scored the best free-kick of his career

Dembele sent Luis Suarez clear for Barca's third before half-time with Messi adding his ninth free-kick goal in La Liga in 2018 after the break to wrap up a completely dominant derby victory.

Barcelona were having all of the ball though, and the visitors made the breakthrough in the 17th minute when Messi curled a stunning long-range free kick into the top corner of the net.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, whose side host Tottenham in their final Champions League group game on Tuesday night, had warned of a "trial by fire" in the build up to the derby fixture and things could have been different had Borja Iglesias not shot wide early on.

The sublime effort gave Barcelona a 4-0 lead.

Victor Sanchez headed over the Barcelona crossbar 10 minutes from time as Espanyol continued to search for a goal, and it nearly arrived when Baptistao struck towards the far corner, but the ball just deflected wide.

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The Barca captain, playing in this fixture for a joint-record 32nd time, beat Diego Lopez with a flawless free-kick from 25 yards that curled away from the goalkeeper's despairing dive.

Espanyol looked for a way back in to the match as Duarte's downward header at the far post was blocked by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Goals from Brais Menzez, Okay Vokusli and Maxi Gomez had put Celta 3-0 ahead, but goals from Carlos Bacca in the 83rd and 87th minutes for Villarreal left Celta clinging on for all three points. The Uruguay forward held off defender David Lopez to somehow, from the tightest of angles, stab the ball between the legs of the goalkeeper and in off the far post.

Understandably, Barca took their foot off the gas in the second half, though the feeling that they could re-find their intensity and cutting edge at a moment's notice remained.

Messi was prevented a hat-trick by a smart Diego Lopez save in the 69th minute, and Espanyol thought that they had registered in the 73rd minute when Duarte converted a Sergio Garcia free kick.

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