Lionel Messi returns to form as Barcelona crush Elche


Barcelona shrugged off a turbulent few days as they romped to victory in the first leg of their Copa del Rey fifth-round tie, beating Elche 5-0 at home. Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu announced on Wednesday his decision to bring the club's elections forward by 12 months in order to recover "stability" following growing media reports of friction in the changing room and in the boardroom in recent times. A number of players are said to be unhappy with coach Luis Enrique's methods. That came after Barca sacked sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta on Monday, while club stalwart Carles Puyol left his position as an assistant. But all seemed well on the Nou Camp pitch on Thursday night as they thrashed Elche to put one foot in the quarter-finals. It took 35 minutes for Neymar to break the deadlock, firing home after a neat pass from Luis Suarez, but the goal opened the floodgates. Suarez got the second after a neat turn, and after Lionel Messi had a goal chalked off for offside, the Argentinian scored the third from the penalty spot after Neymar tumbled under the attentions of Enzo Roco. Jordi Alba turned home Messi's pass for the fourth early in the second half and Neymar's deflected shot made it 5-0 on the hour-mark. Barca had chances to add to the already considerable lead but seemed to declare with Neymar substituted despite being on a hat trick.