Lionel Messi was on the scoresheet and Ousmane Dembele starred with a double as champions Barcelona cruised to a 5-1 win over Villarreal at Camp Nou, moving a step closer to completing a historic unbeaten season in LaLiga.
Philippe Coutinho’s third goal in his last four games put Barca ahead and Paulinho soon doubled the hosts’ lead with his ninth league goal of the season, but first since January.
Messi combined to devastating effect with the departing Andres Iniesta – who received a standing ovation on his penultimate home appearance when he was later replaced – to make it three on the stroke of half-time, the forward’s 34th LaLiga goal of the campaign.
Substitute Nicola Sansone scored a goal he knew little about for Villarreal after the break, but Dembele struck with three minutes left and then got the goal of the night in stoppage time as Barca secured a comfortable victory that moves them to within two matches of going the whole top-flight season without defeat.
Barca, whose unbeaten LaLiga run is now 43 games stretching back to last season, have fixtures against Levante and Real Sociedad to negotiate if they are to achieve the feat.
Unlike rivals Real Madrid, sixth-place Villarreal – who had won three straight games coming in and remain firmly in the hunt for a Europa League spot – afforded Barca a guard of honour prior to kick-off.
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