Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Paulinho were on target as Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 home win against Levante on Sunday which saw LaLiga‚Äôs leaders stretch their advantage over Atletico Madrid back to nine points.
Barcelona ended 2017 with a crushing Clasico win at Real Madrid ‚Äď who are now 17 points off the pace, albeit with two games in hand ‚Äď and they continued the club-record start to a season with ease, although there was no sign of Philippe Coutinho.
A deal worth a reported ¬£142million was announced by Barca on Saturday, but Ernesto Valverde‚Äôs men had more than enough to beat Levante prior to the Brazil international‚Äôs formal arrival at Camp Nou.
Coutinho‚Äôs predecessor as Barca‚Äôs record signing, Ousmane Dembele, made his first start since September after recovering from a torn hamstring in another positive development for Valverde.
Messi drew level with Gerd Muller as the most prolific player for a single club in Europe‚Äôs top five leagues by scoring his 365th LaLiga goal on his 400th appearance in the Spanish top flight, neatly volleying in an early opener.
And Suarez‚Äôs strike was also a milestone goal, a powerful volley before half-time his 132nd for the club, moving him above Samuel Eto‚Äôo to become Barca‚Äôs seventh-most prolific goalscorer.
Barca had beaten Levante 4-1, 5-0 and 7-0 on their three previous league Camp Nou trips but the visitors battled hard to keep the score down as captain Andres Iniesta made his 650th appearance for the hosts, although Paulinho added late gross by finishing off Messi‚Äôs magical assist.
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