Heavily favored Barcelona took care of business at Camp Nou against La Liga cellar-dweller Mallorca, notching a dominant 5-0 victory over the outmatched visitors.
Barca scored four goals in the first 45 minutes to put this La Liga fixture completely out of reach by the midway point. But the offensive onslaught wasn't over, as Cesc Fabregas found the net to complete his hat trick in the 46th minute to make it a five-goal difference.
Typically, it is superstar Lionel Messi who is scoring goals at such a rapid rate for the Catalans. ESPN FC Press Pass' official Twitter page noted how rare Fabregas' achievement was in that context:
A right hamstring injury prevented Messi from taking the pitch in this one, but it clearly had no affect on the final outcome.
The Vermillions simply had no answer for the high-octane attack of Barcelona, which wreaked havoc on goalkeeper Dudu Aouate and Mallorca's hapless defense all day long.
Fabregas also assisted on the two goals he didn't score, setting up Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez on both occasions at 22' and 38'—the latter of which was just one minute after Fabregas' second goal.
La Liga's leaders continue to roll toward the Spanish title, but they will encounter a difficult test in their next match without Messi. The second leg of a UEFA Champions League quarterfinals showdown against Paris Saint-Germain awaits.
Meanwhile, Mallorca continues to sink into oblivion, and it will need a strong performance to finish out the season in order to avoid staying in the bottom three. Only three points separate the Vermillions from avoiding relegation as of now, but this crushing loss shows that the club has plenty of work to do.
Cesc Fabregas, Barcelona: A+
Fabregas was the catalyst for the Barca attack, stepping up big in the absence of Messi. It would have been easy for him and his teammates to have a letdown, but Fabregas' outstanding performance helped highlight the massive gap between these two clubs.
His ability to facilitate was key in helping the Catalans maintain a commanding 75 percent possession advantage.
Alejandro Alfaro, Mallorca: C
To be fair to the Vermillion forward, he didn't have much help in this fixture. The assault that Barcelona put on stymied any momentum Mallorca could have generated by playing the first 20 minutes in a scoreless tie.
Alfaro, though, was completely shut down. A golden chance arrived after a beautiful cross from Alan Hutton, which could have cut the deficit to 2-1 early on. Unfortunately, Alfaro's header weakly went wide of the post, and just moments later, the three-goal deficit made a comeback unfeasible.
Alexis Sanchez, Barcelona: A
Two goals and two assists would have put Sanchez in the running for Man of the Match honors if not for Fabregas' hat trick.
Still, Sanchez combined with Fabregas to form a one-two punch that overwhelmed the visitors throughout, and the chemistry he helped foster bodes well for Barcelona moving forward. The only knock on Sanchez was the yellow card he picked up in the 75th minute.