MADRID, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Leo Messi produced another outstanding performance as FC Barcelona strengthened their lead at the top of the Liga Santander on Saturday.
The Argentinean scored two goals and had a hand in two more as his side thrashed city rivals, Espanyol in Espanyol's Cornella El-Prat Stadium.
Recent Barcelona derbies in Cornella have been feisty affairs, but Barca, with Messi at his very best, never gave them a chance.
Messi opened the scoring with a magnificent free kick in the 16th minute and them turned the home defense inside out to help tee up Ousmane Dembele, who was preferred to former Espanyol forward, Phillipe Coutinho in the Barca starting 11.
Dembele justified coach Ernesto Valverde's decision with a lovely curling shot into the far corner of the Espanyol net and the game was virtually over as a contest when Luis Suarez made it 3-0 from a narrow angle.
Messi repeated his magic with another free kick in the 64th minute to put the icing on the cake for a very satisfying night for Barca, while Espanyol have now lost their last four matches.
Sevilla remain second after a draw away to Valencia, but they will be frustrated at only taking a point from their visit to the Mestalla Stadium.
Pablo Machin's side were the better of the two teams and deservedly took the lead thanks to a Pablo Sarabia goal.
The Valencia fans gradually lost patience with their team and Sevilla should have sealed the win when Andre Silva hit the post with the keeper beaten, but Valencia were able to save a point thanks to a header from Mouctar Diakhaby in the 92nd minute.
That goal was not enough to stop handkerchiefs being waved in protest from the stands in what is a common gesture from the supporters in Mestalla.
Atletico Madrid produced a typically effective display to beat Alaves 3-0 in the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Saturday lunchtime.
Nikola Kalinic's first goal for Atletico opened the scoring in the 25th minute, while after the break Antoine Griezmann and Rodri rounded off the scoring in what Alaves coach Aberardo Fernandez qualified as his sides 'worst' performance of the season.
Celta Vigo deepened Villarreal's problems with a 3-2 win in Villarreal's Estadio de la Ceramica, although not with a late scare.
Goals from Brais Menzez, Okay Vokusli and Maxi Gomez had put Celta 3-0 ahead, but goals from Carlos Bacca in the 83rd and 87th minutes for Villarreal left Celta clinging on for all three points.