Uruguay and Argentine forwards Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi helped themselves to hat-tricks as Barcelona dismantled Valencia 7-0 in the Copa del Rey semi-finals on Wednesday to pile up pressure on Gary Neville.
Luis Suárez’s four goals outdid Lionel Messi’s three goals Barcelona take towering lead to Mestalla for next week’s second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals.
The rout started after just seven minutes, when Neymar broke through the middle and found Luis Suarez who dragged a low finish into the bottom-left corner of Mat Ryan’s net. Barcelona doubled their lead as Vidal set up Suarez to curl home his second.
A minute before half an hour in Catalonia, La Blaugrana raced to a 3-0 advantage as Andres Iniesta, in bundles of space, was allowed to square the ball to Suarez, who in turn dummied for a Messi tap-in.
Barca still weren’t done as Messi struck the post after he met Suarez’s unselfish ball across goal, and Los Che’s night went from bad to worse, Mustafi seeing straight red for a last-ditch challenge on Messi in the area, yet Neymar could only plant his penalty onto the right-hand post.
Having brought on Sofiane Feghouli before half-time in a bid to change the game’s dynamics, Neville turned to Cheryshev, who entered the fray to universal acclaim and even pulled one back, although his tap-in at Ter Stegen’s far post was adjudged offside.
Yet, Barcelona were in no mood to ease up. Suarez’s deft back-heel picked out Messi, who withheld two opponents in the Valencia box, before burying a finish past Ryan.
Neville and his methods came under mass scrutiny on social media during the game, but the Catalans’ football was in another realm, although Dani Parejo didn’t help matters, the captain far too casual in his own box as Messi quickly dispossessed him and rifled the ball home for his hat-trick.
With no respite in sight for Los Che and their defence all at sea, another sweeping move from the hosts allowed Suarez to bag a treble of his own with a free header at Ryan’s back post, before completing a memorable night for all Cules as he fired home a simple toepoke with two minutes to spare.
The defeat is Neville’s first in the Copa del Rey — after winning his first four — since taking over the reins on 2 December.