Barcelona claimed pole position in the race for the Primera Division title after cruising to a 5-0 victory over Espanyol at the Nou Camp on Sunday afternoon.
- Barcelona 5 Espanyol 0
- Messi free-kick fires Barca in front
- Suarez nets second-half brace
- Rafinha nets Barca’s fourth
- Neymar adds name to scoresheet late on
Despite dominating first-half proceedings, Barcelona only had one goal to show for their efforts, Lionel Messi’s early free-kick the difference at the half-time break.
However, the shackles came off after the half-time interval as Luis Suárez netted a brace, before Rafinha and Neymar added their names to the scoresheet.
The host started the match on the front foot and claimed the lead with their first effort on goal. Having won a free-kick on the edge of the Espanyol area, Messi dusted himself down before slotting a curling shot into the top-right corner.
Barca very nearly added to their advantage just three minutes later, but Luis Suarez saw his shot kept out by Pau Sabata, with Messi also denied by the keeper just moments later.
Later efforts from Messi and Neymar failed to find the mark as the Blaugrana threatened to run rampant.
However, Espanyol managed to regain their composure and eventually lodged their first effort on goal on the half-hour mark, Felipe Caicedo seeing his goal-bound effort saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the Barca goal.
The last noteworthy chance of the first half fell to Pape Diop just one minute later, but the Senegal international saw his headed effort fly over the crossbar.
Having failed to fully capitalise on their dominance in the first half, Barcelona produced a clinical showing in front of goal after the half-time interval.
Messi was the architect for the second goal, teeing up Suárez, who slotted a right-footed effort into the bottom-right corner from the centre of the box.
And the Uruguay international struck again in the 61st minute, evading his marker before rising well to head home from Neymar’s inswinging corner kick to put the result beyond any doubt.
They very nearly added a fourth on 69 minutes, but Ivan Rakitic failed to keep his shot down as it sailed over the bar.
However, the fourth did arrive on 74 minutes, with Rafinha firing home with his first touch of the game just moments after coming on for Rakitic.
Despite boasting a comfortable advantage, Barcelona didn’t ease off on their opponents in the closing stages of the match, adding a fifth in the 83rd minute when Neymar collected a pass from Suárez before firing into the bottom-left corner.