Barcelona - Luis Suarez scored his first La Liga goal and Lionel Messi netted
twice as Barcelona moved to within a point of leaders Real Madrid with a
5-0 thrashing of Cordoba in their final game of the year on Saturday.
hosts got off to a flying start as Pedro Rodriguez, once again
deputising for Neymar, opened the scoring with a smart finish from Ivan
Rakitic's wonderful through ball inside two minutes.
struggled to build on their lead for the rest of the first period, but
Suarez capped another quick start to the second period when he poked
home from close range to end a seven-game drought in the league since
returning from a four-month ban for biting.
Gerard Pique headed in a third before Messi rounded off the scoring with two stunning finishes in the final 10 minutes.
coach Luis Enrique claiming that Neymar had fully recovered from an
ankle injury, the Brazilian watched on from the bench as Pedro was
rewarded for his hat-trick in the 8-1 thrashing of Huesca in midweek and
the Canary Islander continued his scoring streak in the first
meaningful attack of the game.
Rakitic's intelligent left-footed
pass over the top was trapped by the Spain international before he
lashed the ball into the roof of the net to register his sixth goal in
as many games.
Andres Iniesta then shot straight at Juan Carlos
before Suarez was inches away from making his mark with an acrobatic
effort that flew into the side-netting.
Nabil Ghilas and Fede
Cartabia shot into the side-netting in Cordoba's only two attacks of
note in the first 45, and they could have been further behind at the
break but for a fine reaction save from Carlos to turn Pique's header
from close range behind for a corner.
There was nothing the
Cordoba 'keeper could do seven minutes into the second period, however,
when Messi, Iniesta and Pedro combined to hand Suarez a glorious chance
to get up and running in La Liga and this time the Uruguayan made no
mistake with a deft first touch before slotting under Carlos.
Rakitic nearly made it 3-0 moments later in spectacular fashion as he crashed a drive from 25 yards off the post.
Croatian then made way for Xavi Hernandez 25 minutes from time and it
was the veteran midfielder who provided a perfect cross for Pique to
power home a header to make it 3-0.
Two minutes later Messi got
his name in the scoresheet from another set-piece as Cordoba only
partially cleared a corner from the right and the four-time World Player
of the Year smashed the ball right-footed home off the underside of the
bar from the edge of the box.
Messi added one final moment of
magic in stoppage time when he spectacularly controlled a looping ball
on the outside of his left foot before spinning to fire home with his
right despite Carlos's best efforts to keep it out.
Victory moves Barca six points clear of champions Atletico Madrid, who visit Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
Madrid will end the year on top despite having played a game less than
the Catalans as they take on San Lorenzo in the final of the Club World
Cup later on Saturday.