Barcelona snapped a three-match winless skid in la Liga with a decisive 8-0 victory over Deportivo on Wednesday evening at the Estadio Riazor in La Coruña.
Luis Suárez scored a brace in each half, with goals in the 11th, 24th, 53rd and 64th minutes, while Ivan Rakitic, Lionel Messi, Marc Bartra and Neymar added goals in the 47th, 73rd, 79th and 81st minutes, respectively.
It was a much-needed win for the reigning league champions, who had not won a league affair since March 12th and had suffered four defeats in their previous five matches in all competitions.
With the victory Barcelona are at 79 points and retain their lead atop the table no matter what, with pursuers Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid also in action on Wednesday.
There were two notable insertions into Luis Enrique’s starting XI, with Dani Alves and Marc Bartra getting starts in defence, the latter in for the suspended Gerard Piqué. Otherwise, it was a full-strength lineup for the Catalonians.
Just like they had in Sunday’s defeat to Valencia, Barcelona started off strong early on but with no goal to show for their efforts. Suárez had a good look early on, while a combination between the MSN ended with a Messi shot being parried away by Deportivo goalkeeper Manu Fernández.
However, on the resulting free kick the heavens opened and Barcelona got their goal. Rakitic swung in a corner kick and Suárez was there to club it past Manu and give Barcelona a huge boost and a 1-0 lead.
But just like in recent weeks, Barcelona’s defence looked fragile, and the visitors were fortunate when Deportivo’s Celso Borges’ toed shot went straight at goalkeeper Claudo Bravo. Moments later the Costa Rican got a second shot, but he was never able to get a shot off and bravo pounced to prevent the score.
Deportivo were left to rue their missed chances, as Barcelona took advantage and Suárez doubled the margin midway through the half after receiving a perfect pass from Messi.
The Uruguayan then had the hat trick on his boot just after the half-hour mark after a perfectly timed run from Dani Alves and cross, but Suárez was unable to control it and Manu was there to gobble up the loose ball.
It was shortly after Suárez’s miss that alarm bells went off for Barcelona when Messi went down awkwardly after a shot and remained on the Riazor turf with what looked to be an ankle injury. Messi eventually got off and continued playing, but was running gingerly and clearly was not 100 percent.
Nevertheless, Messi emerged from the dressing room at half-time fit enough to continue and soon enough Barcelona were back on the scoreboard. If there was a moment in the match that showed that Barcelona were back to their best, it was their third score as Andres Iniesta, Neymar and Suárez combined on the left before the Uruguayan swung a ball across that Rakitic hammered home with a volley to make it 3-0 and effectively seal the precious three points.
After spurning his chance to net the hat trick in the first half, Suarez would not fail at the second time of asking as a surgical pass from Messi was hit one-time by Suárez past Manu and in 10 second half minutes the scoreline had doubled to 4-0.
Bravo still had to be alert at the other end, especially against Lucas Pérez who got off a rocket at the hour mark but the Chilean was steady and made the stop.
Barcelona continued to work out all of their goalscoring frustrations as unselfish play from Neymar allowed Suárez to tally his fourth of the game, as the Brazilian beat the offside trap and collected a pass on the left with just Manu to beat. Instead of shooting, Neymar played a ball across to the former Liverpool man, who eventually converted to stretch the lead to 5-0.
All that was missing was a goal from Messi and Suárez was happy to serve as playmaker in the Argentine’s goal with a wicked turn and ball across that Messi easily slid in to make it 6-0.
The little-used Bartra then got into the act with a darting run in the area and a strong finish to score his second goal of the season and give Barcelona a 7-0 lead. Minutes later Suárez got to play provider again and crossed for Neymar who rounded Manu before firing for the 8-0 final score.