Lionel Messi scored a first half hat-trick and tacked on another goal in the second half as Barcelona put pressure on Real Madrid with a 5-0 win over Eibar at the Camp Nou on Saturday.
While Barcelona were far from their best and lacked precision, the genius of the Argentine was able to paper over those cracks and earn the Catalan side the three points. This means that they are now at the top of the LaLiga table with 55 points and Real Madrid with 53.
Messi fired the hosts ahead in the 14th minute with a superb effort and added two more quickfire goals in the 37th and 40th minutes to notch his 54th hat-trick for club and country.
The Argentinian added a fourth in the 87th minute before Arthur Melo completed the rout two minutes later.
Quique Setien reverted back to a 4-4-2 formation, meaning Ansu Fati took a seat on the bench, while Messi and Antoine Griezmann were stationed up top.
Meanwhile, in midfield, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal and Arthur joined Sergio Busquets and Nelson Semedo slotted in at right-back.
After a nervy start in which Eibar had a goal ruled out for offside, Messi took control and gave Barcelona a 1-0 lead with an excellent individual effort that saw him beat a quartet of defenders
Barcelona captain doubled the advantage to 2-0 when he collected a pass from Vidal, burst pass three defenders and fired in past Dmitrovic.
Braithwaite made his Barcelona debut, coming on for Griezmann.
A goal was not on the cards for the Dane, but he did well to provide an assist on Messi's final goal of the day.