VIR­TU­OSO SHOW

Ney­mar puts on ‘bal­let’ per­for­mance as Barca thump Vil­lar­real

New Straits Times - - Sport - BARCELONA

AN in­spired Ney­mar led Barcelona’s 4-1 thrash­ing of Vil­lar­real on Satur­day with a per­for­mance that coach Luis En­rique said proved the Brazil­ian is in a class of his own.

Cham­pi­ons Barca tem­po­rar­ily went three points ahead of Real Madrid as Ney­mar and fel­low South Amer­i­cans Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez com­bined to see off an in-form Vil­lar­real.

Real then pro­duced a ruth­less first-half dis­play to thrash al­ready-rel­e­gated Granada 4-0 to re­main on course for a first league ti­tle in five years.

Real are level on 84 points with Barca, who lead the stand­ings due to their su­pe­rior head-to­head record. Real have a game in hand, how­ever, and will win a first do­mes­tic ti­tle since 2012 if they take seven points from their re­main­ing three games.

At the Nou Camp, Barca went ahead in the 21st minute when Ney­mar ran onto a de­flected pass from Messi to score, and the Brazil­ian for­ward was a con­stant threat down the left, de­light­ing the crowd with his daz­zling foot­work.

Messi scored twice to take his tally to 51 goals in all com­pe­ti­tions but it was Ney­mar who stole the show.

“Any foot­ball fan has to ap­pre­ci­ate what Ney­mar does, which some­times seems more like bal­let than drib­bling. It’s beau­ti­ful, it’s ef­fec­tive and it’s spec­tac­u­lar,” Barca coach Luis En­rique told a news con­fer­ence.

“It’s a huge plea­sure to watch him. Time will tell if he can de­fine an era. Ney­mar in­ter­prets foot­ball com­pletely dif­fer­ently to other play­ers, even to other Brazil­ians.”

Barca de­fender Ger­ard Pique said foot­ball needed play­ers like Ney­mar.

“He’s mag­i­cal, al­though we’re in an era in which it seems that magic is pe­nalised and kick­ing is seen as bet­ter than pro­vid­ing a spec­ta­cle,” he added. “Play­ers like Ney­mar make foot­ball much bet­ter.”

The Cata­lans’ hopes of win­ning a third straight ti­tle rest on Real Madrid los­ing one of their re­main­ing games.

AFP PIC

Barcelona’s Ney­mar per­forms a scis­sor kick in a La Liga match against Vil­lar­real at the Nou Camp on Satur­day.

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