Five-star Barca march on


Barcelona's perfect start to the new Primera Division season continued with a processional 5-0 victory over bottom side Levante at Ciutat de Valencia. Luis Enrique's early leaders made it four wins from four and kept a fourth straight clean sheet as goals from Neymar, Ivan Rakitic, Sandro, Pedro and Lionel Messi demonstrated the wide gulf in class between the two sides. There were, however, two moments of concern for the Catalan giants, with Messi missing a penalty after Loukas Vyntra was dismissed and Neymar making a premature exit in the second half having turned his ankle. Levante, meanwhile, remain in the basement with no goals and just one point from their opening four matches. Barca threatened within minutes as Jeremy Mathieu reached Dani Alves' knock-back to the far post only to stab the ball wide of the mark. Mathieu was left standing when Jose Luis Morales hurdled his challenge to streak down the right. The Levante winger looked for the run of Victor, but Alves steamed across to make the block before the ball could be released. Barca promptly started taking the match seriously, but wasted a great opportunity in the 16th minute. When Jordi Alba was played in on the left side of the box he had an unmarked Pedro waiting in front of an open goal. The Spain defender chose to aim for the far post, with his shot bobbling out for a throw-in on the far side. Neymar's blast at Jesus Fernandez was blocked before Levante countered, Tono streaking down the left and crossing the ball to Barral, whose hair grazed the ball as he attempted a bullet header. Barca went closer in the 25th minute, Javier Mascherano playing a long ball to Neymar and the Brazilian nodding inches wide of the target after Jesus had flapped at the ball in flight. The opening goal arrived nine minutes later, though, with the lively Neymar getting his reward for an industrious first-half performance. A through-ball from Messi sent Neymar in behind the defence and, despite Jesus getting fingertips to the ball, the former Santos striker regained his composure and clipped home. Barca won a penalty in the 40th minute when Messi was clattered by both Vyntra and Tono after controlling Andres Iniesta's dink over the top. Vyntra saw red for the offence, but he was not fully punished as Messi thrashed his spot-kick wide. The Catalans made certain they would not live to regret the missed opportunity by adding a second goal of real quality just before the break. A period of head tennis ended when Papakouli Diop cleared the ball as far as the feet of Rakitic, who hammered an unstoppable rising drive into the top left corner. Neymar's game was over almost as soon as the second half began, the 22-year-old replaced by Sandro in the 51st minute after suffering an ankle injury. Yet Barca soon put that setback behind them by pulling further clear of their hosts in the 57th minute. It was the substitute who rolled the ball home after Messi delivered a square pass into the penalty spot following good build-up work from Sergio Busquets. Pedro added Barcelona's fourth with relative ease seven minutes later – he steered Alba's low cross into the bottom corner – and the match was swiftly devolving into a training exercise. Goal number five arrived through another familiar source, Messi coolly chipping the ball over the hapless Jesus in the 77th minute. Pedro fancied claiming a sixth goal to really rub salt in Levante's wounds, and would have clinched it in the final 10 minutes had he pushed slightly further forward and reached Mathieu's looping header across the box.