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PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

The game proved to be the perfect opportunity to react positively following the disappointments against Madrid and Chelsea as the team swept Rayo aside with a demonstration of attacking brilliance which saw them three up at the break. Goals from Messi (2), Alexis, Keita, Pedro(2) and Thiago gave Guardiola’s team a comfortable win which beat their previous best result at Vallecas(1-4 in the 1989-90 season)in their first visit to this ground in the last nine years.

The result was another demonstration of the team’s character, bouncing back from a difficult week with painful defeats and the announcement of Guardiola’s farewell with a seven goal show that keeps them seven points off the leaders.

Messi starts the scoring

It was pretty clear from the start that we were in for a game full of goals, with Messi opening his account by rounding off a good team move and then winning the ball in midfield to set up Alexis for the second. To add, literally, injury to insult, Rayo defender Rober banged into the post in the goal and was stretchered off.

Three up at the break

Rayo were playing a high line and Barça were happy to take advantage, looking for the runs of Alexis and Pedro in behind and after laying siege to Cobeño’s area, it was really no surprise when they went three up through a Keita goal – once again set up by Messi to deservedly send them three up at the break.

Pedro joins in

There was no change in the second half, with Messi firing an early chance from an Alexis cross at the bar and the ball falling to Pedro who simply had to knock it back in to make it four. Ahead of his probable game in the Cup Final, Pinto got a rare start and made a number of classy stops, whilst Afellay came on for Busquets on 73 minutes to make a welcome return after his long injury layoff, which has seen him miss most of the season.

Three more

Barça then got three more in the last quarter of an hour, as Thiago headed in a great cross from Alves for the fifth and Pedro got his second after more great work from Messi, who rounded off the rout with his second on 90 minutes. It was a great performance from the Argentinean, who is now just two short of Gerd Muller’s record of goals in a season, and indeed from the whole team who were once again at their very best !

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