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It was as if FC Barcelona had seemingly spent much of the early part of this season in a dark room, methodically searching for the light switch on the wall, and had suddenly found what they were looking for. They knew the switch was there; they had flipped it on countless times before; yet, this season it was taking longer than usual to find.
On Saturday night at Camp Nou, the Catalans found it. The lights finally came on. And boy were they bright.
In a return to normalcy for the defending La Liga champions, Neymar Jr and Luis Suárez — the only two prongs of the trident in action these days as Lionel Messi works his way back from injury — lit it up big time, leading the Catalans to a shining 5–2 rout over visiting Rayo Vallecano.
Neymar stole the spotlight by scoring Barça’s first four goals, two in each half, and Suárez added Barça’s fifth in an offensive explosion that surprised everybody, and nobody at all.
The Brazilian’s first two goals came on successive penalty kicks — on 22 and 32 minutes, one to tie the game and one to take the lead — that he himself had drawn with ankle-breaking moves that on each play left a Rayo defender with little remedy other than to apply a sweep-the-leg takedown more fit for karate than football. Neymar outwitted Rayo keeper Toño on both spot kicks, first going left, then going right, and leaving him sprawled out on the wrong side of the net each time.
Neymar's two first-half scores brought him into a tie with Barça legend Johan Cruyff on the Club’s all-time scoring list with 60 goals.
After the break, Neymar passed Cruyff. First, in the 70th minute, the Brazilian notched his third goal of the night after blasting home a rebound from close range following a shot by Suárez and a save by Toño. Then, just one minute later, Suárez generously fed Neymar in a two on none that culminated with Neymar tapping in for both his and Barça’s fourth of the game.
Three minutes later the karma came back to Suárez, courtesy of Neymar, and the Uruguayan put up Barça’s fifth and final score.
Neymar's four-goal outburst doubled his season tally, leaving him with eight, tops in La Liga.
A pair of blemishes for Barça were the only dark points in an otherwise brilliant return to form, though the latter, an 86th minute goal by Jozabed, came in mop up time and was met with little more than a shrug by the Camp Nou faithful.
Rayo’s first goal opened the scoring on the quarter-hour mark as Bebé came out of a set play on a corner kick and rocketed a cross to the near post that a streaking Javi Guerra got to first and blasted past Bravo. It seemed at the time that Barça had been stung by another bit of tough luck and were going to pay for it.
But a few minutes later, once Neymar found that switch, FC Barcelona were again able to see the light.
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