Messi, Neymar and Suarez strike to keep Barca rolling

Messi, Neymar, Suarez strike to keep Barca rolling

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

MADRID: Barcelona stretched their ad­van­tage at the top of La Liga to seven points yes­ter­day thanks to an­other clin­i­cal dis­play from Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez to down Real So­ciedad 4-0. Messi was making his first league start in two months as he con­tin­ues his come­back from knee lig­a­ment dam­age. But the Ar­gen­tine was ini­tially out­shone by his strike part­ners as they each swept home from two Dani Alves crosses to put Barca in com­mand at the break. Neymar then added his sec­ond shortly af­ter the half-time be­fore tee­ing up Messi for his first league goal since Septem­ber in stop­page time. Atletico Madrid can close the gap at the top to four points when they host Es­panyol later. Mean­while, Real Madrid are now nine points adrift ahead of their trip to Eibar to­day.

Barca boss Luis En­rique made four changes from the side that de­stroyed Roma 6-1 in the Cham­pi­ons League in mid­week, but with Messi, Suarez and Neymar de­ployed once more in at­tack, the Cata­lans didn’t miss a beat. Suarez should have opened the scor­ing af­ter just two min­utes when he was bril­liantly played in by Neymar, but Geronimo Rulli rushed from his line to bravely smother the Uruguayan’s ef­fort just in­side his area. The Ar­gen­tine goal­keeper did well once more to deny Neymar at a nar­row an­gle from Messi’s won­der­ful through ball eight min­utes later. Even when Rulli was beaten, the wood­work saved So­ciedad when An­dres Ini­esta headed Suarez’s per­fectly mea­sured cross against the post. The visi­tors’ luck even­tu­ally ran out on 22 min­utes, though, when Messi re­leased Alves down the right and Neymar was quick­est to meet his low cross and drive the ball into the top cor­ner. Alves was the cre­ator once more for Barca’s sec­ond just be­fore the break as his floated cross picked out Suarez to ac­ro­bat­i­cally vol­ley into the far cor­ner. Barca had to wait just eight min­utes af­ter the break for a third with the full-backs prov­ing So­ciedad’s down­fall again as this time Jeremy Mathieu squared for Neymar to ap­ply a sim­ple fin­ish. That strike took Neymar and Suarez’s tally in La Liga this sea­son to 26 - the same as the en­tire Real Madrid squad.

How­ever, both then turned their hand to try­ing to set up Messi. The four-time World Player of the Year fired into the side-net­ting and then straight at Rulli from two Neymar crosses be­fore pulling a free-kick inches wide of the far post. It looked like be­ing a for­lorn af­ter­noon for Messi when his bril­liant curl­ing ef­fort came back off the cross­bar four min­utes from time. How­ever, a fi­nal piece of magic be­tween Neymar and Suarez al­lowed the Brazil­ian to roll the ball invit­ingly across goal for Messi to slot into an empty net and seal a fan­tas­tic week for Barca which has seen them take a stran­gle hold of La Liga and clinch their place in the last 16 of the Cham­pi­ons League. — AFP

BARCELONA: Barcelona’s Uruguayan for­ward Luis Suarez falls dur­ing the Span­ish league foot­ball match FC Barcelona vs Real So­ciedad de Fut­bol at the Camp Nou sta­dium yes­ter­day. (Inset) Barcelona’s Brazil­ian for­ward Neymar (cen­ter) cel­e­brates with Barcelona’s Uruguayan for­ward Luis Suarez (left) and Barcelona’s Ar­gen­tinean for­ward Lionel Messi af­ter scor­ing their third goal. — AFP

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