Lionel Messi scores on landmark appearance in comfortable Barcelona win

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Lionel Messi marked his 400th LaLiga appearance with an early goal as leaders Barcelona beat Levante 3-0 at the Nou Camp to restore their nine-point advantage.

Philippe Coutinho has headed to Catalonia to complete the formalities of his £142million transfer from Liverpool, but it remained business as usual for Ernesto Valverde’s men on Sunday afternoon as Messi opened the scoring after 12 minutes, drilling an angled effort in off the post.

In-form Luis Suarez, who himself left Anfield for the Nou Camp during the summer of 2014, added a second before the break and Paulinho tapped in a late third as the Blaugrana consolidated first place ahead of Atletico Madrid.

Tweet of the match

Man of the match – Lionel Messi

Levante coach Juan Muniz had challenge his players to neutralise the threat of Lionel Messi to give themselves hope of a positive trip to the Nou Camp, but like so many before, it proved Mission: Impossible.

The Argentine playmaker was, as usual, at the centre of all of Barcelona’s positive play – before and after he had broken the deadlock with an impressive effort on 12 minutes which flew in off the post.

Just for good measure, it was his low cross which set up Paulinho for a late tap-in to complete the scoring.

Moment of the match

Barcelona doubled their lead after 37 minutes with a goal from the top drawer.

Sergi Roberto was played clear on the overlap down the right, and picked out Luis Suarez with a first-time cross back to the edge of the penalty area.

Suarez took it in his stride, killing the ball with an exquisit first touch which set himself up for a volley to crash the ball in off the underside of the crossbar.

Stat Attack

Lionel Messi marked his 400th LaLiga appearance for Barcelona with goal number 365, as Levante lost their 12th-straight league match at the Nou Camp


Barcelona: Marc-Andre ter Stegen 8 (out of 10), Sergi Roberto 8, Javier Mascherano 7, Thomas Vermaelen 7, Jordi Alba 7, Ousmane Dembele 7, Ivan Rakitic 7, Paulinho 7, Andres Iniesta 7, Lionel Messi 9, Luis Suarez 8. Substitutes: Nelson Semedo (for Dembele, 67) 7, Andre Gomes (for Iniesta, 75) 7, Jose Arnaiz (for Roberto, 86) 6.

Levante: Olazabal Oier 7, Shaquell Moore 7, Erick Cabaco 6, Sergio Postigo 6, Antonio Luna 6, Jefferson Lerma 6, Sasa Lukic 6, Cheick Doukoure 6, David Jason 6, Emmanuel Boateng 7, Ivan Ivi 6. Substitutes: Rober (for Lerma, 62) 6, Alexander Nano (for Boateng, 74) 6, Garcia Samuel (for Jason, 83) 6.

Who’s up next?

Real Sociedad v Barcelona (LaLiga, January 14)

Levante v Espanyol (Copa del Rey, January 11)

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