Barcelona reclaimed the La Liga summit with a 6-0 drubbing of Sportin Gijon on Saturday at Camp Nou with Luis Suarez putting four past the visitor’s goal keeper.
Lionel Messi opened the scoring with a header in 12th minute for his 40th, while Luis Suárez scored four goals for the second straight match with scores in the 63rd, 74th, 77th and 88th minutes –two of those via penalty.
Neymar also scored via penalty in the 86th minute to complete the rout and earn Barcelona the three points, keeping the Catalonians atop the La Liga table with 82 points.
Barcelona boss Luis Enrique made two changes from Wednesday’s 8-0 demolition of Deportivo La Coruna. Pique returned from suspension to take the place of Marc Bartra and Sergi Roberto came in for Dani Alves at right-back while Sporting started with Blaugrana loanee Alen Halilovic.
Despite having seemingly put their poor form prior to midweek behind them, Sporting should’ve taken the lead when Miguel Guerrero broke away down the right and sent a cross towards the back post for an unmarked Alex Menendez to finish off, but the left-winger’s first-time shot in the penalty area was blocked last-ditch by Sergi for Claudio Bravo to claim a save.
Having looped a header over the bar earlier in the match, Lionel Messi simply did the same from 18 yards out into the back of the net for the opener.
Suarez could have doubled the lead for Barcelona when he sprung the offside trap to take on Messi’s through ball, which allowed Cuellar to spread his body and block the Brazilian’s shot from point-blank range.
Barcelona in the closing stages of the first half failed to deal with a low cross towards their far post, and Halilovic bounced a finish towards the bottom-left corner, only for Gerard Pique to chest the ball clear on the line, amidst suspicions he used his arm.
On resuming the second half, a tireless Messi fed Iniesta on the left and the midfielder’s cross arrived at the back post for Suárez, who had an easy tap-in to double the lead 2-0.
Suárez put the encounter to bed when he slammed home a penalty following a ball handling by Roberto Canella in the area.
Moments later, Barcelona were gifted another penalty when Antonio Sanabria knocked over Neymar in the area, and again Suárez stepped up to convert the spot kick for his third and Barcelona’s fourth.
Another penalty for Barcelona made it 5-0 for the home side after Ognjen Vranjes was penalized for fouling Neymar on an aerial battle. Replays showed little contact between the two, but referee Clos Gómez was adamant and later sent off Vranjes for protesting. This time Neymar fired in past Cuéllar to extend the advantage to 5-0.
Suárez iced the cake just before the final whistle after benefitting from a Messi pass to bang in a shot off the post for his 34th goal of the season. Suárez now has an eight goals in his last two matches.