Luis Enrique believes the Messi’s equalising goal just before half-time gave FC Barcelona the impetus they needed to beat Espanyol 5-1 at Camp Nou.

Lionel Messi scored a brilliant hat-trick to help FC Barcelona win the Catalan derby and coach Luis Enrique claimed after the game that the Argentine played a decisive role in this victory over Espanyol.

Espanyol dominated the proceedings in the early parts of the first half and they took the lead with the help of Sergio Garcia’s goal in 13th minute. However, once again, Lionel Messi came to the rescue of FC Barcelona as he scored the equalizer in 45th minute, which was followed by two brilliantly taken goals in the second half.

Gerard Pique and Pedro Rodriguez also scored a goal each in the second half but it was the performance of Leo Messi which saved the day for FC Barcelona. Coach Luis Enrique said after the game that FC Barcelona won the match because of Messi’s equalizer.

Luis Enrique said: “Until their goal it was a relatively placid game for us. We missed a couple of chances and they had some opportunities too. Messi’s equalizer was key because in the second half we were better, we were much more effective and with the players we have, it is difficult for other teams to stop us when we are effective like that.”

It was Messi’s third hat-trick in four games but Luis Enrique said that not just the goals, but the overall contribution of the player helped FC Barcelona to register this win.

“Today, Leo Messi wasn’t only decisive with his goals, but also with the way he set up chances and in his defensive play,” Luis Enrique said. “He was extremely involved all over the pitch and we have seen that since the beginning of the season.”

Messi’s hat-trick was followed by the record breaking treble of Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid. But coach Luis Enrique refused to give much importance to this duel of both these superstars. “That’s a question for them. What we want is for Leo Messi to help out the team and not just in attack. He gets fully involved and that is important for FC Barcelona.”

Luis Enrique once again changed the positions of Xavi and Rakitic in FC Barcelona’s midfield and the coach defended his decision in the post-match press conference. Luis Enrique said: “We look at playing qualities and there’s not much difference in playing on the left or the right. We are always looking for balance. We want them to switch around because it’s good for the team.”