Andres Iniesta provided two world-class assists and Ousmane Dembele added two late goals as La Liga champions Barcelona saw off Villarreal 5-1 on Wednesday to maintain their quest for an unbeaten domestic league season.
After Villarreal gave Barcelona the guard of honour that Real Madrid had denied them on Sunday, Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho scored in the opening 16 minutes to put Barcelona comfortably in front, before Iniesta found Messi just before the break and Dembele added a pair of goals late on.
Dembele produced his best performance since arriving from Borussia Dortmund for £135.5 million last summer to finish with two goals having left Villarreal defenders in his wake all night.
The hosts opened the scoring the 11th minute as Dembele spun away from a defender, ran past two more and unleashed a low shot that Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo could only parry into the path of the onrushing Coutinho, who tapped in.
It was 2-0 five minutes later when Iniesta wowed the crowd in his penulimate game in the Camp Nou. The departing midfielder sent a through ball between the legs of defender Mario Gaspar to find the overlapping Lucas Digne, who passed across the six-yard box for Paulinho to score.
Iniesta also set up Barcelona’s third with another pass from about the same spot, this time lobbing the ball over the defence to land on Lionel Messi’s foot, who redirected it past Asenjo with his first touch.
The result was rarely in doubt even after the visitors got a goal back in the 54th minute when Pablo Fornals was given space in the box to shoot, and his strike deflected off the back of teammate Nicola Sansone and into the net.
Iniesta came out to applause on the hour mark, before Dembele added a fourth goal in the 87th minute, tapping in after Ivan Rakitic danced around defenders on the wing before sending the ball across the face of goal.
Dembele then added a fifth goal with the final kick of the game, picking up the ball near midfield and racing away towards goal before chipping the goalkeeper.
Barcelona now only have to avoid defeat at Levante on Sunday and at home against Real Sociedad the following weekend to become the first Spanish side to go a full season unbeaten.