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Luis Súarez scored three times as part of FC Barcelona’s second half goal glut, which saw the Catalans pour it on late in a 6–1 dissection of Celta in La Liga action on Sunday night at Camp Nou.
With the victory, FC Barcelona maintain their three-point advantage at the top of the league standings, while extending their Club record unbeaten streak to 30 games. Barça still have a game in hand, though, which they will play this Wednesday at Sporting de Gijón, where a win will see their league advantage swell to six points.
The rout also gave Barça and head coach Luis Enrique — who came to FCB from Celta in the 2014 off-season — some sweet revenge, after they had fallen 4–1 at Balaídos earlier this season and had lost two of the last three meetings between the two, including a painful 1–0 loss at Camp Nou last season.
"They have beaten us before and that was motivation," full-back Jordi Alba said.
The lopsided play late in the game was proof that the Galicians were sorely missing several top players, some to injury and some to suspension.
"Against Celta, it is never easy. We were spectacular in the second half," Luis Enrique said after the game.
Nevertheless, the game was deadlocked at the half and there were few signs of what was to come.
Neymar’s close-range shot that was denied by the quick reflexes of Celta goalkeeper Sergio Álvarez after a quarter-hour of play was the only exception to a soporific opening 20 minutes notable only for its paucity of menacing attacks.
Messi put FC Barcelona ahead 1–0 in the 28th minute with a quintessential free-kick goal from 30 metres after Suárez was tackled hard by ex-blaugrana player Carles Planas in the midst of a marauding down the centre of the field, a play which also drew a yellow card for the Celta defender. Messi lined up the long kick and hit the bull’s-eye in the upper right corner, just out of the reach of the high-flying Sergio.
For Messi, it was his 13th goal of the season in La Liga and his 28th overall.
But ten minutes later, in the 38th, Celta drew level on a rather serendipitous play after forward John Guidetti, who was breaking away from the goal to regroup, was tripped up by Alba in the Barça penalty area. Guidetti himself blasted the spot kick past Bravo.
Barça went back up, 2–1, in the 59th minute when Suárez chipped past Sergio from the doorstep after receiving an astonishing pass from Messi, who flicked a feathery lob over the Celta defence and hit the breaking Suárez in-stride.
In the 74th, the so-called trident came out in full force for Barça’s third goal of the evening, as Suárez cleaned up after Messi found Neymar deep in Celta territory.
In the 81st minute Messi was tripped inside the penalty area and, after lining up for the penalty kick, did something that caught not just Celta off guard, but the whole stadium, as well as everyone else in the world either watching or listening. Messi approached the ball and, instead of shooting, tapped it a few metres forward, where Suárez, who was in on the ruse, drove the ball into the net past the helpless goalkeeper to make it 4–1.
"That play was rehearsed but it was supposed to be for me," Neymar joked after the game.
In passing to Suárez, Messi's selflessness was on full display, as he gave up a chance to score what would have been his 300th career league goal.
Instead of becoming part of yet another Messi milestone, it was Suárez’s third goal of the second half, his league-leading 23rd goal of the season, and his 39th overall across all competitions.
Midfielder Ivan Rakitic scored Barça’s fifth goal of the night in the 83rd when he charged straight up the middle, took a soft pass from Suárez, and finished with aplomb.
Neymar piled on Barça’s sixth goal in the 89th after a beautiful pass from Suárez, his second assist of the night.
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