Lionel Messi passed the 50-goal mark for the season as Barcelona moved three points clear at the La Liga summit with a 4-1 win over Villarreal at the Camp Nou on Saturday.
- Barcelona 4 Villarreal 1
- Bakambu cancels out Neymar's opener
- Messi scores in both halves
- Suarez also on target after the break
Barca took some time to get going before taking the lead in the 21st minute, although the Yellow Submarine hit back 11 minutes later to punish their defensive frailties.
The defending champions struck again just before the break, and a further two goals in the second half took them clear of Real Madrid, who play later in the evening.
The first half got off to a cagey start as the two teams felt each other out. A quiet opening saw no chances created in the opening 20 minutes before Luis Enrique's side broke the deadlock soon afterwards.
Barca's first opportunity came to Lionel Messi on 21 minutes as he curled a free-kick straight into the arms of Andres Fernandez, and they opened the scoring moments later when a deflected effort from the Argentine fell kindly for Neymar to convert from inside the area.
But the visitors were back in the contest 11 minutes later as they sprung Barca's high defensive line with a through-ball from Roberto Soldado sending Cedric Bakambu clear on goal, and the Congolese striker provided a cool finish.
Gerard Pique nearly restored the hosts' lead soon afterwards as he headed wide Messi's cross, while Villarreal went close with a header from Soldado that also missed the target.
However, the Blaugrana went back in front moments before half-time when Messi skipping his way past the defence and firing past Fernandez with the aid of a deflection off Mario for his 50th goal of the season.
Messi was denied a second after the restart as Fernandez punched away his right-footed strike, but the keeper was soundly beaten on 69 minutes after Luis Suarez raced away down the right before slamming the ball through his grasp.
However, the little maestro eventually completed his brace from the penalty spot in the closing stages, with Jaume Costa having handled Suarez's cross inside the area eight minutes from time. Messi scored with a Panenka down the middle to score his 51st and seal the win.