Lionel Messi scored his first goal of the season as nine-man F. C. Barcelona beat Sevilla 4-0 on Sunday (Oct 6) to climb into second place in La Liga behind Real Madrid.
The hosts rode their luck in the early stages of the game as Julen Lopetegui's Sevilla made an ambitious start but failed to take their chances while Barcelona were ruthlessly efficient and scored three times in the space of eight first-half minutes.
Luis Suarez gave the champions the lead with an outstanding bicycle kick in the 27th minute and Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal then got a crucial touch on a tame shot from Arthur Melo to double Barcelona's lead in the 32nd minute.
Ousmane Dembele, who was named in the starting line-up ahead of Antoine Griezmann, made it 3-0 in the 35th minute with a superb solo dribble and finish.
Barca captain Messi scored from a free kick in the 78th momite to finally get off the mark in a season which has been blighted by injuries but there was a sour end to the game for Ernesto Valverde's side, who are two points behind Real.
Uruguayan defender Ronald Araujo had made his debut by replacing the injured Jean-Clair Todibo but was sent off 14 minutes later for a last-ditch challenge on Javier Hernandez, while Dembele was dismissed for protesting the decision.
Atletico Madrid lost ground to La Liga leaders Real Madrid as they were held to a 0-0 draw away to Real Valladolid - their third goalless draw in four games - after the hosts squandered a penalty in the first half.
Valladolid striker Sandro Ramirez sent the ball flying over the crossbar from the spot towards the end of a tight first half and came close to breaking the deadlock in the second when his shot shaved the post.
Atletico were the better side after the interval and striker Alvaro Morata was denied at point-blank range by Valladolid's goalkeeper Jordi Matip, while substitute Angel Correa hit the post with 10 minutes remaining.
Iago Aspas broke his seven-game scoring drought to start the season and gave Celta Vigo a much-needed 1-0 win over Athletic Bibao. Aspas headed in in the 74th-minute winner.
Espanyol fell into second-to-last place after losing 2-0 at promoted Mallorca with Ante Budimir and Salva Sevillthe scorers in each half. Getafe were also 2-1 winners against Real Sociedad.