Newly-crowned World Player of the Year Lionel Messi had to be withdrawn at half-time with a hamstring problem as Luis Suarez’s hat-trick led Barcelona to a 6-0 thrashing of 10-man Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Messi paraded his record fifth Ballon d’Or before kick-off and the game at the Camp Nou barely lasted three minutes as a contest.

Suarez was brought down as he rounded Gorka Iraizoz and the Athletic goalkeeper was shown a red card for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Messi converted the resulting spot-kick and Suarez was also heavily involved for the second as he played in Neymar to dink his 19th goal of the season past substitute goalkeeper Iago Herrerin.

Messi wasn’t risked for the second-half after feeling a hamstring strain.

However, the Argentine wasn’t missed as brilliant play from Neymar teed up Suarez and Ivan Rakitic to make it 4-0.

Suarez rounded off the scoring with two more to move out in front as La Liga’s top-scorer with 18.

“The penalty changed the game and the plan they had to face us, but we knew how to make the most of the circumstances,” said Suarez.

By AFP

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