Barcelona extended their lead over Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga to nine points with a comfortable 3-0 win over Levante.
It took the league leaders just 12 minutes to open the scoring and it was who else but Lionel Messi who scored his and the club’s first La Liga goal of 2018. The Argentine clipped the ball into the box to Jordi Alba who nodded it back for Messi to run onto and strike the ball down into the ground and into the far corner via the post.
They were down but not out of the game Levante and had a golden opportunity to equalise less than five minutes later when Emmanuel Boateng cut the ball back to the onrushing Jefferson Lerma who failed to hit the target from 18 yards out.
Ivi Lopez also went close as he saw his shot deflect just wide with the visitors refusing to bow down to the Catalans.
Barca went close soon after when Ousmane Dembele saw his shot from the edge of the box parried by Oier Olazabal only as far as Luis Suarez who fired over the bar. The Uruguayan centre forward wasn’t to be denied seven minutes before the interval however as he controlled Sergi Roberto’s cross before volleying home with the aid of a slight deflection.
Lionel Messi and Shaq Moore both saw glorious chances saved by the opposition goalkeepers when they really should have scored with Suarez also kept out once more.
The game looked certain to remain the same with both teams waiting on the final whistle but deep into stoppage time Barca put the icing on the cake with a third goal.
Messi’s ball across goal was dummied by Suarez allowing Paulinho to tap home to round off an impressive performance.