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FC Barcelona put on a scintillating show for the home faithful at the Camp Nou on Saturday, as they cruised to a 5-0 win over Las Palmas.
Fresh off the back of the 3-1 Copa del Rey last-16 second leg win over Athletic Club, Luis Enrique’s men continued in the same vein and picked up their first league win of 2017 in emphatic style.
It was a lively start to the game, despite the clear cut chances, with last ditch tackles flying in on both side of the pitch, long range efforts and even a Leo Messi free-kick that flew over the bar just that served to warm up the fans.
Suárez breaks the ice
There was no time for that excitement to turn into any sort of anxiety for the fans, as Barça were soon 1-0 up.
On 14 minutes, Aleix Vidal threaded a through pass to André Gomes down the right flank, who then smartly cut the ball to Luis Suárez. And when the ball fell to the Uruguayan near the edge of the six-yard-box, there was simply no doubt what the outcome would be, as a measured strike got the better of Javi Varas at the near post.
A similar looking attack, but on the opposite side, transpired moments later between Rafinha and Suárez but just as the lethal no.9 was about to pull the trigger, an opposing defender managed to deflect the ball of him and out of danger.
The chances kept coming. Messi went on a mazy run around the penalty area, but thought better to lay it on to Rafinha who was open on the far side rather than having a go himself. The Brazilian opted for the strike on goal despite teammates open and may have regretted it when he saw his effort go well wide.
Barça again came close to doubling their lead after Arda Turan went on a marauding run forward before feeding Suárez into the clear. The striker chipped a cross to the back post for Gomes arriving late but despite getting good connection on the strike, the keeper spread himself well to keep the score at 1-0.
It was Gomes again who had the next big chance when Sergio Busquets dinked a wonderful ball over the top of the Las Palmas defenders. The Portuguese midfielder classily cut inside his man with his first touch but not so elegantly blasted the ball over with his second.
Everything looked to be going in twos in the first half, apart from Barça’s goal tally as Leo Messi would be the next player to go close on two occasions in quick succession. He nearly made it four free-kick goals in as many games but Varas scrambled across goal to make a good stop. But two minutes later, after robbing Aythami of possession, who was the last man, Messi surprisingly was unable to dispatch as the keeper again made a good save.
The second half started with a decent chance for the visitors as Kevin Prince Boateng leapt highest to meet a cross into the box but it was not dipping quickly enough to worry Marc-André ter Stegen.
From then on, however, Barça would get back into their rhythm, but this time with an added edge to the one witnessed in the first period.
Barça find their groove
On 52 minutes, Arda fed Rafinha down the wing with a reverse pass and the Brazilian’s cross-shot was too hot to handle for the keeper. Against any other side the error probably would not have been costly but Messi sniffed blood and pounced on the loose ball to make it 2-0, finally, for Barça.
The goal means Messi has now scored against each of the 35 La Liga opponents he has faced.
Barça were struggling to bury their chances in the first half, but there was no such problem in the second as Suárez would make it 3-0 five minutes after Messi’s strike.
The two architects of Messi’s goal would link up again – Arda to Rafinha, Rafinha to Suárez and a quick drop of the shoulder followed by an unstoppable curling finish, Barça were running away with it.
With very little time to catch breath, Barça were celebrating again. Messi’s clipped ball over the top played in Suárez for a possible hat-trick and despite his uncharacteristic failure to dispatch the opportunity, the keeper’s save rebounded kindly for Arda who was on hand for a deserved goal of his own. By this point Barça were out of sight, but with a frightening appetite for more.
Chances continued to rain at Varas’ goal and a fifth came with ten minutes to go, from an unlikely source.Paco Alcácer picked up the ball on the right wing and played a pin point pass into the box and there was Aleix Vidal on hand to sweep in a fine finish to score his first ever goal for the club. A fitting way to cap a fantastic performance, and Barça’s first league win of the New Year.
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