After weeks of poor performances and terrible results, Barcelona finally returned to winning ways, dismantling Deportivo La Coruña to the tune of eight goals. Led by Luis Suarez who scored four times and assisted on another three goals, Barcelona’s win was never in question and the Catalans will go into the weekend round of matches atop La Liga. The remaining four goals were scored by Ivan Rakitić, Lionel Messi, Marc Bartra and Neymar.
|Shots on Target||5
Compared to the massively disappointing Valencia game on Sunday, Luis Enrique made two changes. Dani Alves returned to the starting lineup and Gerard Pique was forced to the stands due to yellow card accumulation and was replaced by the almost forgotten Bartra.
With the healthy league lead now completely gone the only acceptable result for the Catalans was a win, and there was a sense of urgency to Barcelona's attacks in the early going. Barcelona created their first chance in the 6th minute when Andres Iniesta found Suarez with a through ball who wasted no time in taking the shot but it hit the outside part of the net.
In the 11th minute Barcelona created their next scoring chance, with Lionel Messi for the first time putting Manu Fernández to the test. Messi's shot came after a lovely play by Neymar, but the Spanish goalkeeper was well positioned to make the stop. But Barcelona would take the lead from the ensuing corner kick. Rakitić sent the ball in from the flag to right in front of goal where Suarez outmuscled Sidnei for position to first-time a shot to the back of the net.
Deportivo countered with a couple of excellent chances of their own just before the 20 minute mark. First, Celso Borges was sent through by a lovely cross but just couldn't get enough power on the ball to beat Claudio Bravo, resulting in an easy collect for the Chilean. Shortly after, Bravo appeared beaten after a Cani pass that deflected off Jordi Alba pulled the Chilean off the line with Borges having an empty net to shoot at, but Bartra dove in front of the Costa Rican to prevent a sure goal. The rebound fell to Oriol Riera who missed the target.
The best way to avoid a lucky/unlucky bounce leading to a tie game is to increase the lead and that is exactly what Barcelona did in the 24th minute. Iniesta found Messi on the edge of the area who sent a fabulous first-time pass through the defensive line to the onrushing Suarez who powered the ball over the leg and just under the arm of Manu to double the lead.
A two goal Barcelona lead against Deportivo has not been uncommon in recent games, but somehow Deportivo always clawed back. This time, however, such a scenario was difficult to envision as the hosts struggled mightily to contain Barcelona's firepower. In the 34th minute the Catalans seemed destined to add to their lead, with Iniesta again starting the attacking move, this time finding Alves on the right wing. With space, Alves sent a low ball in front, but it was just a hair behind Suarez who failed to react to the pass, resulting in a missed chance.
Three minutes later, in the 37th minute, Messi remained on the ground after having his shot blocked and getting tangled up with Sidnei, holding his ankle. The Argentine stayed down for several moments but was able to shake off the knock and continue playing. It was the last noteworthy play of the first half.
The second half started with no substitutions and a bang. Just two minutes after the restart, Barcelona added to their lead. Neymar led the Barcelona attack but was stuffed by the defense and the loose ball fell to Saurez. Suarez then showed his incredible vision by sending a perfect cross to the far side to the wide open Rakitić who powered the ball in.
Six minutes later it was 4-0 Barcelona, with Messi again sending a fantastic ball to Suarez who was left with a one-on-one with Manu. With the potential sixth hat-trick of the season on the line, the Urugayan made no mistake, completing the hat-trick and rendering the remainder of the game a mere formality.
Still, with Deportivo playing with only three in the back line after the Fernando Navarro substitution, and with plenty of frustration built up from recent losses, Barcelona were far from done. First, in the 64th minute Messi sent a perfectly timed pass to send Neymar and Suarez through on goal. Neymar made the unselfish play and found Suarez on the far side, but Suarez's weak attempt was blocked by the defender. The rebound however fell back to the Uruguay international and this time he buried it for his fourth of the night.
Nine minutes later, in the 73rd minute, Messi finally got in on the scoring, after "only" assisting twice earlier. Suarez masterfully dribbled on the right side of the area to win acres of space and find a lane to supply the ball to Messi who had an empty net to shoot at after Manu left his line to deal with Suarez. In the 79th minute it was 7-0, with Bartra doing it all on his own, going on a long solo run past four Deportivo players and beating the goalkeeper in the end to score his second goal of the season. Still, that would not be all, as Neymar would also join in on the goal-fest, converting Suarez's pass from the right side.
In the flurry of all the goal, it almost went unnoticed that Bravo had to deal with quite a few shots as Deportivo threaten occasionally from distance, but the Chilean was able to maintain his concentration throughout, despite going large stretches with no action. Lucho also completed all three changes at various stages of the second half, taking off Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, and replaced them with Sergi Roberto, Adriano Correia and Rafinha.
With four goals and three assists Suarez became the first player to be directly involved in 7 goals in a single La Liga game in the 21st century. The 8-0 win was also the biggest win Barcelona ever recorded against the Galician club, equaling the all-time La Liga record for biggest away win set four times - all by Barcelona. The players will now have to quickly regenerate as their next game is already on Saturday, against the relegation threatened Sporting Gijon.
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