Barcelona and Sporting Gijon played an entertaining, end-to-end match at El Molinon on Saturday, as the reigning champions emerged comfortable 5-0 winners courtesy of goals from Luis Suarez, Rafinha Alcantara, Neymar (2) and Arda Turan. The win sees the Blaugrana temporarily move back to the top of the table, with Real Madrid able to reclaim top spot, dependent upon their result against Las Palmas.
Right from the starting whistle at El Molinon, it was evident that this match was going to be played at a frenetic tempo. The hosts were trying to exert pressure, and well, Barça were being Barça. The crowd may have been roaring on in support of their heroes, but Gijon could only survive so long before the mistakes started to creep into their game.
Just before the half hour mark, the visitors had their breakthrough. A simple ball over the top brought goalkeeper Pichu Cuellar from his goal, and the Spaniard lost the footrace with Luis Suarez, who clipped the ball past his challenge before rolling it into the back of the net. The second goal came mere minutes later, and in typical Barça fashion as Neymar played an excellent pass to find Sergi Roberto on the overlap, before Sergi squared it to Rafinha for a relatively simple tap-in.
At the half, Barcelona were in control, and well on their way to climbing to the top of the table.
If the first half started with both teams playing an up tempo brand of football, the second half was more of a test of patience for the Blaugrana. With the three points all but secured, Luis Enrique’s side moved into energy saving mode, largely content to just play the ball around and probe when the opportunities arose, rather than forcing the issue. Sporting on the other hand, in spite of the deficit, put up a valiant effort to try and get back into the game.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen was called into action a few times as he was made to earn his clean sheet, while Denis Suarez and Paco Alcacer both looked relatively bright in their cameo appearances off the bench. A late red card for Lora all but extinguished the last glimmer of hope that Gijon had of fighting back, and it also opened the floodgates for more Barcelona goals.
Paco Alcacer could count himself unlucky not to get off the mark as he struck the crossbar before Neymar was on hand to bundle home the rebound. Arda Turan added a fourth off yet another great Sergi Roberto cross, before Neymar bagged his second thanks to a slide-rule pass from Denis. Five goals, three points – and a temporary trip back to the top of the table.
Not a bad afternoon’s work.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen | Roberto, Piqué, Mathieu, Digne | Busquets (Denis), Gomes, Arda | Rafinha, Suárez (Alcacer), Neymar
Goal: Suarez (29'), Rafinha (32’), Neymar (81’, 88’), Arda (85’)
Sporting: Pichu | Lillo, Mere, Amorebieta, Lora | Alvarez, Cases | Moi (N’Di), Victor (Douglas), Burgui | Cop (Castro)