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First half goals from Messi and Neymar kept Barça top of the table, but with Rayo down to ten men for the last half hour, it could and perhaps should have been a bigger win for the league leaders. But they maintained their unbeaten record and have still to concede a league goal.
Luis Enrique rotates his team
Luis Enrique rang the changes in his selection for the game, with Piqué and Bartra starting at the heart of defence and Mathieu filling in at left back, with Mascherano and Jordi Alba both benched. In the middle, Xavi was handed another start alongside Iniesta and Busquets, while Munir got the nod over Pedro up front. The team looked none the worse for the rotations though, as they began brightly against a Rayo team who made it clear from the off that they were prepared to go toe to toe with the league leaders.
Messi and Neymar on the mark again
But the hosts paid the price for playing a high defensive line and just past the half hour mark, Messi pounced on a chip over the top from Piqué, controlling the ball with his head and chipping over Toño to open the scoring. Two minutes later Neymar doubled the lead after Munir had held the ball up well before slipping in the Brazilian for his seventh league goal of the season so far.
Bravo sets league record
Earlier in the first half, Claudio Bravo had set a new record for a start to a league campaign without conceding, when he passed Artola’s previous record on 21 minutes and in front of him, Piqué and Bartra looked a solid pairing, whilst Mathieu impressed in defence and going forward.
Plenty of chances after the break
After the break, particularly once Morcillo saw a second yellow to reduce Rayo to ten men, Barça began to find plenty of space and Rakitic (who came on for Iniesta on 70 minutes), Sandro (who replaced Neymar on 80 minutes) and especially Messi had plenty of chances to increase the lead. None of them did though, and Barça go into the international break still unbeaten in the league and also yet to concede a goal. There’s a two week break now before Eibar are the visitors to the Camp Nou at the start of what promises to be an exciting end to the month with games against Ajax and Real Madrid to come.
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