Barcelona are top of the Spanish Liga after a 5-2 destruction of crisis team Atletico Madrid.
The star of the show an the Camp Nou was Lionel Messi, who celebrated the extension of his contract until 2016 by scoring two goals in Saturday’s late game.
Josep Guardiola’s defending champs have nine points from three games, having made a perfect start to the season.
They didn’t play particularly well by their own high standards but were fast and sharp in front of goal, punishing every mistake made by the nervous Atletico defence.
“We were really good in the first half,” said defender Gerard Pique, who admitted that “we lost our rhythm a little bit towards the end.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has scored in all three of Barca’s league wins, pointed out that “we have more possession and attack more” than Inter Milan, the team he left in July.
Thierry Henry almost opened the scoring in the very first minute when he shot against the Atletico crossbar. But the Barca fans did not have to wait long for the first goal.
In the second minute, Sergio Busquets played through Ibrahimovic and the Swedish striker made it 1-0 with a clever flick of his right foot.
In the 17th minute, Xavi set up Messi to make it 2-0 with one of his inch—perfect through—balls.
The third goal was a blasted free-kick from Dani Alves, which Atletico’s shaky debutant keeper Roberto Jimenez should have stopped.
Three minutes before the end of a vibrant first half, Seydou Keita made it 4-0 by turning in a perfect Messi centre.
Sergio Aguero pulled a goal back for Atletico, who are now second from bottom with just one point to their name.
Barca took their foot off the pedal in the second half, and Diego Forlan took advantage to score a second consolation goal. Messi, however, was determined to have the last laugh and made it 5-2 with a low right-foot drive.
Barca are two points ahead of surprise package Mallorca, who moved up to second by thrashing hapless Tenerife 4—0 in Palma.