MADRID: Lionel Messi became the only player to score at least once in 16 successive Spanish league season as champions Barcelona climbed to second spot with a home win over Sevilla.
Ernesto Valverde’s side swept Julen Lopetegui’s visitors away with three goals in eight first-half minutes.
Luis Suarez opened the scoring with an acrobatic finish after 27 minutes, before Arturo Vidal and Ousmane Dembele put the hosts in complete control. Messi completed the scoring with a late free kick.
Barcelona had 20-year-old debutant Ronald Araujo and Ousmane Dembele sent off in the closing stages, after Araujo brought down Javier Hernandez when last man – and Dembele was shown a second yellow card for dissent in the aftermath.
They move to within two points of leaders Real Madrid heading into the international break, after Zinedine Zidane’s side beat Granada 4-2 on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid were held to a third goalless draw in four league matches against Real Valladolid earlier on Sunday.
Hazard signs in
On Saturday Eden Hazard claimed his impatiently-awaited first goal for Real Madrid as the Spanish league leaders beat second-placed Granada 4-2 at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
Hazard arrived from Chelsea during the summer as Madrid began a rebuilding project under returning coach Zinedine Zidane.
Further goals from Karim Benzema and Luka Modric gave Real a comfortable three-goal lead but a Darwin Machis penalty and a close-range strike from Domingos Duarte had the home fans dreading a late collapse.
Substitute James Rodriguez sealed the win with a goal in stoppage time, taking Real on to 18 points after eight games, while Granada are second on 14.
Madrid defender Dani Carvajal did not hide his unease about conceding the two late goals, which brought back memories of a nervy 3-2 win over Levante earlier this season.
He said: “We can’t afford to suffer like that after leading 3-0, we need to correct this tendency. We got away with it today and against Levante but if we keep doing this we’re going to drop points. It’s not a sign that we’re very reliable and we need to be more ruthless but whatever happens this weekend we’ll still be top.”