Sergino Dest, Lionel Messi turn in 9/10 performances as Barcelona smash Real Sociedad

Lionel Messi and Sergino Dest both scored braces as Barcelona hammered Real Sociedad 6-1 on Sunday to stretch their unbeaten run in the league to 18 games and keep the pressure on La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.

Messi took his tally for the season to 23 in La Liga on the night he broke Xavi Hernandez's appearance record by pulling on the Barca shirt for the 768th time. Dest's goals were his first in La Liga since the United States international joined from Ajax last year.

Antoine Griezmann had earlier opened the scoring and there was also a goal for Ousmane Dembele, while Ander Barrenetxea scored a brilliant consolation for La Real as Barca proved far too good for the home side at Anoeta.

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There was already a feel-good factor developing around Barcelona, but there's been an added boost with the appointment of Joan Laporta as the club's new president. Ronald Koeman's side are now on the longest unbeaten run in Europe's top five leagues and have won nine on the spin away from Camp Nou in La Liga.

The goals are coming from everywhere now, too. Dest, who opened his account for the club in the Champions League earlier this season, became the 18th player to score for Barca in the league this season. They're still four points behind Atletico but, playing like this, there's no better side in Spain at the moment.


The negative arrived before the game started in San Sebastian, when Alaves missed a late penalty as they were beaten 1-0 by Atletico Madrid. Atletico, therefore, remain four points clear, but it was so close to being just two going into the international break.

Manager rating out of 10

8 -- Koeman has settled on a system and a team in recent weeks and the players continue to deliver. The back three has really helped bring the best out of players like Dest, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 8 -- Made two important saves in the first half from Alexander Isak, although the second after he'd made a mistake. Really good with his feet other than that one error, though.

DF Sergino Dest, 9 -- Took both his goals well but even without those goals this was still a brilliant display. The right-back was a constant threat in the final third.

DF Oscar Mingueza, 7 -- Another decent display from the youngster, who is the perfect fit on the right side of the back three.

DF Frenkie de Jong, 8 -- Perhaps could have done more to shut Barrenetxea down for the La Real goal but another good performance from deep. His ability to come out from the back is key when playing as a defender.

DF Clement Lenglet, 7 -- Much improved in recent weeks following a string of mistakes this season.

DF Jordi Alba, 8 -- On his 32nd birthday, he was once again exceptional as he created two of Barca's six goals and linked brilliantly with Messi.

MF Sergio Busquets, 9 -- Has seemed re-born in recent weeks. Pressed high to help recover the ball and helped create several of Barca's goals.

MF Pedri, 7 -- Always well-positioned and pressed tirelessly but the headlines were written by other players this time.

FW Antoine Griezmann, 8 -- Like Alba (and coach Koeman!) he celebrated his birthday on Sunday, turning 30, and commemorated the day by opening the scoring to open the game up.

FW Lionel Messi, 9 -- Scored two but was also involved in the creation of the other four goals at some stage to continue his incredible form. Has now been directly involved in 31 goals in the league this season, scoring 23 and setting up eight.

FW Ousmane Dembele, 8 -- Had a goal ruled out by a marginal offside call but responded almost immediately by thumping in Barca's fifth.


DF Ronald Araujo, 6 -- Continued his return from an ankle injury with another run out at Anoeta.

MF Ilaix Moriba, 6 -- Had a couple of nice touches after replacing Busquets. Looks like a fixed member of the first team now.

FW Martin Braithwaite, NR -- Replaced Dembele for the final 10 minutes.

MF Riqui Puig, NR -- Nice pass to Alba in the build-up to Messi's second goal.

FW Francisco Trincao, NR -- Came on for Dest with no time to have an effect.