Lionel Messi Shines as Barcelona beat Strugglers Mallorca

Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona and Iddrisu Baba of Mallorca in action during the spanish league, LaLiga, football match played between RCD Mallorca and FC Barcelona at Son Moix Stadium in the restart of the Primera Division tournament after to the coronavirus COVID19 pandemic, on June 13, 2020 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Lionel Messi scored and grabbed two assists as La Liga leaders Barcelona eased to a 4-0 win away to struggling Real Mallorca on Saturday, making the perfect return to action after Spanish football’s three-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The champions got off to a flying start when Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal scored with a diving header in the second minute, while Danish international Martin Braithwaite scored his first goal for Barca later in the first half.

Jordi Alba then added a third goal for Barca in the 79th minute after latching on to a through ball from Messi, who had also set up Braithwaite’s goal with a header.

The Argentine then completed the scoring with a deflected strike in stoppage time, netting 20 league goals for the 12th season in a row.

The win takes Barca on to 61 points after 28 games, five clear of nearest challengers Real Madrid, who host Eibar on Sunday in their first game back.

“We controlled the game and it was a great performance after not competing for three months,” goalscorer Alba said.

“We now have 10 must-win games to go and we are really looking forward to them.”

The game was played behind closed doors to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus, but a fan wearing an Argentina shirt somehow made it on to the pitch, only to be swiftly taken away by security guards.

Luis Suarez made his first appearance since injuring his knee six months ago, coming off the bench in the second half, while his fellow Uruguayan Ronald Araujo hit the post shortly before Alba struck.

Mallorca occupy the final relegation spot in La Liga but despite the heavy loss they gave a decent account of themselves, with 19-year-old Japanese playmaker Takefusa Kubo pulling the strings.

Kubo tested Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the first half while Ante Budimir, Lago Junior and Abdon Prats all flashed shots just wide of the target after the interval.

Last-placed Espanyol got a much needed 2-0 victory over 10-man Alaves, which was hurt by an embarrassing mistake by its goalkeeper.

Fernando Pacheco left his team down a man in the 19th when he earned a direct red card for using his hands outside the box to grab a high ball instead of heading it away.

Bernardo Espinosa and Wu Lei scored for Espanyol in first-half stoppage time.

Valladolid also got some help from a defensive error in beating Leganes 2-1.

Center back Chidozie Awaziem tried to head back a ball to his goalkeeper, but ended up knocking it past him. Valladolid striker Enes Unal raced in and scored in an empty net two minutes into the match.

Elsewhere, Manuel Trigueros struck in stoppage time to snatch Villarreal a 1-0 win at Celta Vigo, which failed to defend Villarreal's final push.

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