Barcelona 5-0 Espanyol: Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar all score as Barca thrash rivals to leave them on brink of La Liga title
- Lionel Messi settled Nou Camp nerves when he gave Barcelona the lead with a neat free-kick after eight minutes
- Ivan Rakitic had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside when he turned in Messi's shot from close range
- Luis Suarez doubled Barca's lead seven minutes into the second half when he finished off a fine move
- Suarez secured the three points with his second of the game on the hour mark, heading in Neymar's corner
- Substitute Rafinha capitalises on dreadful mistake from Espanyol keeper Pau Lopez to add a fourth
- Neymar added a fifth goal to rub salt into Espanyol's wounds, turning Suarez's cross into an empty goal
Suarez has certainly made up for the heartbreak of missing out on the Premier League with Liverpool two seasons ago. He won La Liga in his first season, and his 37 league goals this campaign have left Barça needing just three more points next week against Granada to be crowned Champions.
Messi got the first with a free-kick that left Pau Lopez with no chance. The Espanyol goalkeeper had been whistled every time he touched the ball after he stamped on Messi in a Copa del Rey game in January; the Nou Camp does not forget such things.
Luis Suarez (centre) celebrates with Lionel Messi (right) and Dani Alves (left) after the Argentine gives Barcelona an early lead
Suarez added two second half goals to take his tally for the season to an incredible 56 goals in all competitions for Barcelona
Messi won a free-kick for the hosts on the edge of the area when he was brought down by Victor Alvarez in the eighth minute
The Argentine wizard lifted the ball over the wall and sent it curling into the top left-hand corner of Pau Lopez's goal
Lopez got across well but was unable to get a hand to the ball as it just crept under the cross bar to the delight of the crowd
Messi (right) perpares to embrace fellow forward Suarez (second from left) after opening the scoring for Barcelona inside eight minutes
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Messi took revenge in his own inimitable style, flashing a free-kick from the edge of the area past the Espanyol goalkeeper. It was his 26th goal in the league and his fourth free-kick goal of the season – no one has done that since Ronaldinho in the 2006-07 season.
It was nearly 2-0 when Pau Lopez saved Suarez's shot and Messi thumped the rebound in off of Ivan Rakitic. The goal was chalked out after the flag was raised for offside but with two Espanyol players down and appearing to play Barca’s goal on, it looked a harsh call.
Barcelona were in showboating mood in the next ten minutes with flicks, tricks and one ‘rabona’ cross from Neymyar as they turned on the style but they needed a second goal and it did not come.
Messi was running the game from his right-wing starting position. One of his passes seemed be curling out of play but bounced just inside the line and screwed back to the on-running Rakitic. It was all great to watch but Espanyol were a threat on the break.
Messi is mobbed by his team-mates after his goal got Barcelona off to a dream start as they looked to stay on course to retain La Liga
Brazilian forward Neymar looks to cross the ball from the right-hand side of the box as Espanyol captain Javier Lopez pursues him
Former Manchester United centre back Gerard Pique (left) fights with former Manchester City striker Felipe Caicedo for the ball
Suarez flies through the after a late challenge from Espanyol left back Ruben Duarte in the first half at the Nou Camp
Suarez latched onto a Messi through-ball with 52 minutes played to double Barcelona's lead in the derby at the Nou Camp
The Uruguayan striker raises his hand to the crowd after netting an incredible 55th goal of the season just after half-time
Felipe Caicedo turned Gerard Pique and shot straight at Marc Andre ter Stegen and the German keeper then dropped a Victor Alvarez’ header.
With Levante cancelling out Fernando Torres’s opening goal for Atletico Madrid, the title appeared to be even closer but there was no reaction from the Nou Camp suggesting either a lack of transistor radios and social media updates, or just extreme confidence in Barcelona not relying on results elsewhere.
There was a reaction when Messi appeared to be tripped by Ruben Duarte inside the area. Espanyol had closed the half doing their best to kick and provoke the home side and moments later Duarte was booked for upending Rakitic.
The bad blood between these two teams goes beyond that stamp on Messi. In three games played in quick succession at the start of the year there was also a huge Espanyol banner offending Pique’s girlfriend Shakira – for which they were fined by the league – and a ban for Luis Suarez who allegedly waited for Espanyol players at the door of the dressing rooms calling them ‘garbage’.
Neymar jumps on fellow forward Suarez to congratulate him after scoring his side's second goal in the derby with Espanyol
Suarez then headed the ball home after easily handing off Espanyol captain Lopez to make it 3-0 on the hour mark
The Uruguayan leaps into the air after scoring his 37th La Liga goal of the campaign and a 56th in all competitions
Substitute Rafinha continued his return from injury when he pounced on Lopez's error to make it 3-0 with his first touch
Rafinha is congratulated by fellow Brazilian Alves (left) as fellow substitute Arda Turan (right) beams at him
Neymar added a fifth for Barcelona with seven minutes to play in the derby as the home side ran riot over Espanyol
Suarez had still not scored against Espanyol since joining Barcelona but he put that right on 52 minutes. Alves won the ball high up the pitch and prodded it to Messi. He played it through to Suarez and with very little fuss the Uruguayan dispatched his 300th career goal.
Messi and Suarez’ combination almost brought an immediate third but Pau Lopez came quickly off his line. The second goal had done for Espanyol. They were lackluster now and Suarez did not need to leave the deck as he powered a header past Pau Lopez for the third from Neymar’s corner.
Rafinha got the fourth after the Espanyol keeper spilled a soft shot straight into his path. And Suarez then ran on to Rafinha's flick and crossed for Neymar at the back post allowing the Brazilian to roll-in the fifth.
It had been an easy final home win of the season. The campaign itself has been anything but easy and it is fitting that it will go to the wire – albeit with Barca still one step ahead of the rest.
The Brazilian celebrates after turning Suarez's cross into and empty net to complete the rout and keep Barca in pole position to win the title