Barcelona coach Valverde happy to be above Real Madrid after Espanyol romp

Ernesto Valverde banks on debutant Ousmane Dembele to make instant impact against Espanyol

Ernesto Valverde banks on debutant Ousmane Dembele to make instant impact against Espanyol

Five-time Ballon d'Or victor was in fine form, opening the scoring in the 26th minute, following up again ten minutes later, utilising expert service from Jordi Alba, sealing his hat-trick with more than 20 minutes remaining.

The visitors were initially successful in that aim, with their disciplined defending preventing the hosts from creating any chances in the opening 20 minutes other than a free-kick from Suarez which Pau Lopez safely got behind.

Fellow substitute Paulinho almost bagged his first goal for the club in the 82nd minute but he fired wide from close range.

Barcelona's new player Ousmane Dembele (R) poses with his new jersey next to Barcelona's president Josep Maria Bartomeu at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, during his official presentation at the Catalan football club, on August 28, / French starlet Ousmane Dembele agreed a five-year deal with Barcelona worth 105 million euros ($125 million) plus add-ons.

His biggest highlight came on Barcelona's fifth goal of the night, when Dembele broke free down the right before rolling a ball across for Luis Suarez to slide home.

The Barcelona star opened the scoring despite being offside.

LLUIS GENE  GettyImages
LLUIS GENE GettyImages

Espanyol came close to registering late in the first period when Piatti worked a yard of space inside the Barcelona box before attempting to find the corner of the net, but the ball smashed off the post as the two-goal separation remained entering the half-time break.

Suarez was back in the Barcelona line-up despite an injury scare while on worldwide duty but was not enjoying himself in front of goal as much as Messi.

The result continues Barcelona's 100% winning record, of which there are now only two teams in La Liga to boast such an achievement, and lifts the Catalonians four points above title holders Real Madrid, who were held to their second draw of the campaign earlier in the day.

Espanyol was being outplayed but retained a sporadic threat, with a combination of Pique and Samuel Umtiti diverting Baptistao's 61st-minute shot behind.

Dembele's every touch was cheered and he responded by tearing away from an embattled backline to let Suarez end his personal misery, Pique having revelled in piling further derby misery upon Espanyol shortly beforehand.

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