Barcelona survived a shaky start to come from behind and defeat SD Eibar at the Camp Nou on Sunday evening, as a hat-trick from Luis Suarez secured all three points for Luis Enrique’s side. Borja Baston’s sixth goal of the season had given the visitors a surprise early lead, but Barça fought back and Suarez’ clinical finishing proved to be the difference, enabling the Catalans to draw level with Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.
In what is fast becoming the most alarming trend of the season, Barcelona started the match slowly and once again fell behind to their visitors. This time, the blame lies squarely on the defense and Javier Mascherano in particular, as his lapse in concentration allowed Eibar a clear chance at goal. While Keko’s initial effort was parried by Claudio Bravo, the Chilean could do nothing to bail out his teammates with Borja Baston’s follow-up effort. With 10 minutes on the clock, Barça were behind.
A surprisingly large crowd at the Camp Nou was a little stunned by that opening goal, so it was a good thing that our stand-in captain, Sergio Busquets, took it upon himself to turn things around about ten minutes later. Excelling in a new advanced midfield role, Busquets split the Eibar defense to feed Sandro, who in turn cushioned a selfless pass across goal for Suarez to head home an equaliser. It was a rare glimmer of hope in an otherwise drab opening period from the Blaugrana.
Fortunately, Luis Enrique recognised just how poor that opening 45 minutes had been, and proceeded to give his players an earful at half-time. At least, that’s how I imagine it went, as Barça came out firing from the get-go in the second period. Neymar’s dazzling footwork robbed the ball from Eibar and set up Suarez for the go-ahead goal within minutes of the restart.
More chances followed, particularly late on as the referee grew tired of Eibar’s rather physical approach, but Barça struggled to find that insurance goal. A late sending-off for Javier Mascherano (swearing at the referee) only added to the nerves at the Camp Nou, but Suarez struck again just moments later off a sublime pass from Neymar to wrap up the win.
Not great, but good enough and that’s all that matters.
Barcelona: Bravo; Alves, Piqué, Bartra (Mathieu), Alba; Mascherano, Rakitic, Busquets; Sandro (Munir), Suárez, Neymar
Goals: Suárez (21', 49’, 85’)
Rayo: Riesgo; Capa, Pantic, dos Santos, Junca; Escalante, Garcia (Silvestre); Inui (Saul), Keko, Verdi (Enrich); Borja Baston
Goals: Borja Baston (10’)