La Liga: Messi stars as Barca cruise past Mallorca

Lionel Messi returned with a goal and two assists as Barcelona resumed their La Liga title challenge on Saturday with a thumping 4-0 victory at Real Mallorca.

After three months away because of the coronavirus pandemic, Barca exploded into the lead with just 64 seconds played when Arturo Vidal headed in a delicious cross from Jordi Alba.

January signing Martin Braithwaite made it 2-0 with a thumping finish from inside the area in the 37th minute after a flick on from a Messi.

Flying left-back Alba then got on the scoresheet after he latched onto a Messi pass to add a third but not before play was briefly stopped by a pitch invader, who was able to run on, despite the match being closed to fans.

Messi then capped a productive night with a fourth in injury time for his 25th goal of the season.

The Argentine’s goal was set up by Luis Suarez and the sight of the Uruguayan coming off the bench would have been a massive boost for the Catalans.

Victory extends Barca’s advantage at the top of La Liga to five points over Real Madrid, who can reduce the gap back to two when they restart at home to Eibar on Sunday.

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