Messi-less Barca cruise past Gijon
Barcelona didn't show any signs of missing Lionel Messi yesterday, cruising past Sporting Gijon 5-0 to provisionally take the Spanish league lead in its first game without the injured playmaker.
Neymar and Luis Suarez took over in Messi's absence, Neymar scored two goals and Suarez one, while Rafinha and Arda Turan added the others at El Molinon Stadium in Gijon. BARCELONA 5, SPORTING GIJON 0
Messi hurt his groin in the draw with Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou last week, and will miss one La Liga game, one in the Champions League, and Argentina's World Cup qualifiers against Peru on Oct. 6 and Paraguay on Oct. 11.
Coach Luis Enrique filled the midfield with Turan, Rafinha, and Andre Gomes, resting Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic. He also didn't play Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba ahead of the Champions League game in Germany on Wednesday.
Sporting played with 10 men from the 74th as captain Alberto Lora was sent off for a second yellow card after a hard sliding tackle on Sergi Roberto. By then, the result was already known.
Barcelona struggled in the first 30 minutes but took control of the match after the first two goals, and the game opened up even more for the Catalan club after Lora's red card.
"The score was a bit exaggerated," Luis Enrique said.
Sporting, which dropped to 12th in the standings, also lost 5-0 at Atletico Madrid two rounds ago. STRONG SUPPORT Barcelona's victory came a day after Arnold Schwarzenegger paid a visit to the squad. The actor and former California governor was in town for a bodybuilding event, and met with players such Neymar, Sergio Busquets, and Javier Mascherano. OTHER ACTION
Eibar defeated Real Sociedad 2-0 at home to move to fourth place.
Fifth-place Atletico Madrid hosts Deportivo La Coruna today.
In the late game leaders Real Madrid dropped two points when they wer held to a 2-2 by Las Palmas, with Asensio and Karim Benzema netting Real’s goals.