La Liga

November 25, 2012

Full-time

Levante

0 - 4

Barcelona

La Liga

20:00 +00:00, November 25, 2012

Ciutat de Valencia

Messi closes on record

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caption:Lionel Messi chips in the opener
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Andres Iniesta took centre stage with a virtuoso display as Barcelona continued their unbeaten start to the Primera Division season with a classy victory at Levante.

Iniesta provided assists for Lionel Messi's quickfire double - his 81st and 82nd goals this calendar year - before lashing home a goal of his own and playing in Cesc Fabregas for a fourth as Barcelona ran riot in a devastating 18-minute spell at the start of the second half.

Jose Barkero had the chance to pull a goal back for the hosts late on but saw his tame penalty saved by Victor Valdes as Barca comfortably maintained their three-point lead at the top of La Liga with their 11th win in 12 matches.

Tito Vilanova's visitors had most of the possession in a cagey first period but surprisingly lacked a cutting edge in the final third.

Indeed it was the hosts who were the first to threaten, Barkero cutting in from the right and sending in a swerving effort that Valdes had to guide over the bar.

A minute later Barcelona suffered a setback as Dani Alves was forced off with an injury, with Martin Montoya coming on as his replacement.

Barca remained the dominant force in possession and Messi threatened for the first time on 22 minutes, beating his man 25 yards from goal before firing in a low shot just wide of the right-hand post.

Xavi flashed an effort wide a minute later as Barca began to build the pressure, but the best chance before the interval went the way of Levante in the 31st minute when Juanlu crossed but Barkero could not direct his volley on target.

If Levante thought they were a match for Barca in the opening period, they were simply blown away at the start of the second as the majestic Iniesta took centre stage.

First the World Cup winner teed up Messi for his first of the night on 47 minutes, the Argentina international latching onto his team-mate's defence-splitting pass and lobbing home a smart finish.

Bakero connected with a superb volley that flashed just wide as Levante threatened a response, but with 51 minutes gone Barcelona were celebrating their second as Iniesta made his way to the byline before pulling back for Messi to tuck in goal number 82 of the year - the diminutive forward now just four goals shy of beating Gerd Muller's all-time record.

With 57 minutes on the clock Iniesta's devastating spell continued as he ran at the Levante defence and lashed home a fearsome shot off the underside of the crossbar.

And six minutes later it was four, Iniesta again involved with a cute ball around Levante's last man for Fabregas to apply the finish.

Vilanova's men were happy to sit back in what time remained, although it took late heroics by Valdes to preserve their clean sheet as the Barcelona number one saved Barkero's poor penalty - awarded for handball against Carles Puyol - before making another stop from Angel's rebound.

Scoring Summary

Levante Barcelona
Jose Barkero (pen miss 87')Lionel Messi (47')
 Lionel Messi (52')
 Andrés Iniesta (57')
 Cesc Fábregas (63')