Uruguay international Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick as Barcelona came from behind to defeat Eibar 3-1 in an intense encounter at Camp Nou on Sunday.
Following Borja Bastón’s opener for the Basque visitors, Suárez struck once in the first half and twice in the second to give the Catalans all three points that now has them tied at 21 points with leaders Real Madrid.
Barcelona boss Luis Enrique opted for Sandro in attack with Suárez and Neymar, while in midfield Javier Mascherano once again pushed forward to join Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets. In the back, Claudio Bravo was back between the sticks and a back four of Dani Alves, Marc Bartra, Gerard Piqué and Jordi Alba.
It was all Barcelona to start, as the hosts pressed the visitors in search of the opening goal but the high line landed them in trouble as Eibar romped forward after dispossessing Bartra near midfield with Borja Bastón slotting home a rebound off Keko’s earlier effort to give the guests a shock 1-0 lead after ten minutes.
Barcelona regrouped and pulled level in the 21st minute through Suárez who headed home Sandro’s cross past helpless Eibar goalkeeper Asier Riesgo. With five minutes left on the clock in the opening 45 minutes, Keko nearly gave the visitors their second lead of the evening in the 40th minute when he gathered a ball in the area and rounded Bravo, but his shot was blocked at the near post by Bartra.
Barcelona came out for the second half looking a more energized side, and within three minutes after the restart the Catalonians had a 2-1 lead, when Neymar slipped a pass into Suáz and the Uruguayan fired home to give Barcelona a 2-1 lead.
Once Barcelona took the lead, the tempo of the match slowed considerably, as Barcelona tried to muster a third but to no avail, while Eibar sat back and waited for a probing run forward.
The final minutes of the match were starting to look complicated for Luis Enrique’s side, as Mascherano was given his walking papers in the 84th minute, but less than a minute later Suárez sealed the match when he collected a pass from Neymar, cut to his right and unfurled a shot that split Riesgo and the near post to make it a 3-1 final.
Barcelona return to action on Saturday with a visit to Getafe