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.
Real Madrid put behind them the recent transfer embargo by FIFA to trounce Sporting Gijon 5 – 1 in Zinedine Zidane’s second match in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday 17 January.
The rout started very early with the on fire Gareth Bale firing Real Madrid ahead on the seventh minute, glancing home a Toni Kroos delivery from a corner and two minutes later Real Madrid made it two with Cristiano Ronaldo lashing home a half volley from karim Benzema’s pass.
Real Madrid were firmly in control at that point and the third didn’t take long; Karim Benzema turned scorer when he got to the end of Bale’s cross with an acrobatic volley to make it three on the 12th minute.
Luca Modric should have made it four on the 16th minute but his shot flew over the bar though Ronaldo was on hand to get his second goal under Zidane’s reign on the 18th minute, turning in Dani Carvajal’s cross.
Karim Benzema netted his second of the afternoon on the 41st minute after getting to the end of Isco’s dinked pass with a fine first touch before scoring and Real Madrid headed to the break leading by five goals.
The downside for Real at that point was the injury to Gareth Bale as he limped off and was substituted at the start of the second half with Jese coming on as the replacement.
Ronaldo was lucky to stay on after booting Nacho Cases in the leg after being blocked on the 53rd minute. Had the referee spotted the incident it would have been a straight red.
Gijon pulled one back on the 62nd minute when Jony went forward in a fine run to release Lopez Isma who lashed past Keylor Navas and Real Madrid suffered another setback in Benzema’s injury on 66 minutes to be replaced by Matteo Kovacic.
With the win. Real Madrid rose to second place on 43 points, one ahead of third placed Barcelona who have two games in hand. Atletico Madrid leads with 44 points though they have played a game lesser than Real Madrid.