Neymar scores hat-trick in rout of Granada

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Neymar scored a hat-trick as Barcelona got back to winning ways in emphatic style on Saturday, thumping Granada 6-0 at the Nou Camp.

The Brazilian captain made it six goals in five games in La Liga this season, while Lionel Messi scored twice - including his 400th career goal - and Ivan Rakitic was also on target in the rout.

Luis Enrique’s side restored their two-point lead at the top, taking their tally of goals to 17 for the season and, vitally, they are still yet to concede along the way.

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Six changes 

The manager made six changes from their woeful goalless draw at Malaga in midweek. This included a complete reshuffle in defence with Javier Mascherano, Jeremy Mathieu and Dani Alves all returning, while Adriano got the nod at left-back ahead of Jordi Alba.

Xavi captained the side as he made his first start of the domestic campaign with Andres Iniesta making way, and Munir El Haddadi replaced Pedro on the right wing of the three-man attack.

Granada boss Joaquin Caparros made three alterations of his own from the side that were beaten by Levante on Wednesday. Hector Yuste, Javi Marquez and Isaac Success all came into the starting 11 with Piti, Darwin Machis and Jhon Cordoba the players to make way.

Positive start

The visitors made a positive start to the contest and had the first real opening as Dimitri Foulquier went on a strong run down the left, and his cross eventually fell to Youssef El-Arabi whose shot clipped the top of the crossbar.

That was about as good as it got for them though as it was pretty much one-way traffic from there. Munir couldn’t get the right contact on Mathieu’s volley across goal from Alves’ ball into the area, while Messi swept in Adriano’s cross but just strayed fractionally offside in the process.

Barca finally broke the deadlock on 26 minutes as Neymar pounced on a really sloppy ball from Yuste and drove at Jean-Sylvain Babin, before his shot deflected off the centre-half and looped over the grounded Roberto.

Success spurned a good opportunity at the other end to equalise when he headed just off target from El-Arabi’s cross, but the hosts doubled their lead two minutes before the break.

Rakitic goal

Some good play from Messi on the right saw him skip over a couple of challenges, and Rakitic towered above the defence to power home a header from the subsequent cross.

It was three in stoppage time as the keeper prevented Munir from racing onto Messi’s through ball, but could not deny Neymar from tucking away the rebound.

Xavi’s free-kick was beaten away early in the second half while Munir pulled an effort just wide of the far post, but Barca’s fourth goal simply oozed quality.

A long diagonal ball from Xavi found Alves unmarked on the right-hand side of the area, before he fired the ball across the area first time on the volley for Messi to arrive at the far post and head home his 400th career goal.

Neymar completed his hat-trick four minutes later. Adriano and Xavi set up Messi who cut the ball back across the area, where the Brazilian took a touch and very coolly slid home.

Barca’s biggest win of the season so far was secured eight minutes from time. Another defensive error - this time from Jeison Murillo - saw Messi pick his pocket and bear down on the keeper before finishing smartly.

Lionel Messi
La Liga

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