Barcelona is now just three points away from the La Liga title after a great 5-0 victory at Camp Nou in the Catalan derby against Espanyol, thanks to goals from Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez (2), Rafinha Alcântara and Neymar. In a difficult battle against a physical rival, the Blaugrana were patient and played a strong collective game, and the talents came through at the right time to earn Barça a giant victory in the title race.
From the first minute, the scenario was set: the Periquitos would lock their box and defend with a parked bus, and it would take a patient approach from the Blaugrana to break it. Unless you have the best player in the world, and Lionel Messi quickly unlocked Espanyol's defense with a sensational free-kick to the top corner.
With the advantage, the Catalans did not stop attacking, and continued to use possession well to find spaces against the tough defense in front of them. As expected, Espanyol were very physical and tried to anger the Blaugrana with hard fouls, but they never lost composure and continued to dominate, while Espanyol offered no danger to Barça's defense.
At halftime, a good overall performance from the league leaders, but a tiny lead that needed to increase to avoid any problems in the second half.
Barça started the final period with real purpose to get more goals, and pressured the visitors even more. It worked after just seven minutes, when Dani Alves stole a ball, Messi found Suárez alone in the box, and the top scorer in the league added to his tally to give Barça the second. Ten minutes later, the Uruguayan was in the receiving end of a perfect corner-kick from Neymar, and easily headed home to score his second, and Barça's third.
The show was not over, and after talking a lot of trash before the game, Espanyol goalkeeper Pau López ate his words with a terrible mistake that gifted Rafinha Alcântara a goal and increased Barça's blowout. There was time for more, as Suárez set up Neymar for an easy goal and the Blaugrana's fifth, putting all 'MSN' trio members on the board.
In the end, a sensational victory, a dominant performance and the first hand on the league trophy.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen | Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba (Mathieu) | Busquets, Rakitic (Rafinha), Iniesta (Arda) | Messi, Suárez, Neymar
Goals: Messi (8'), Suárez (52', 61'), Rafinha (74'), Neymar (83')
Espanyol: Pau López | López, Roco, Duarte, Álvarez | Sánchez, Cañas, Diop | Pérez (Róber), Caicedo (Moreno), Asensio