Suarez opens league account, Messi at double
Luis Suarez scored his first La Liga goal and Lionel Messi netted twice as Barcelona moved to within a point of leaders Real Madrid with a 5-0 thrashing of Cordoba in their final game of the year.
The hosts got off to a flying start as Pedro Rodriguez, once again deputising for Neymar, opened the scoring with a smart finish from Ivan Rakitic’s wonderful through ball inside two minutes on Saturday.
Barca then struggled to build on their lead for the rest of the first period, but Suarez capped another quick start to the second period when he poked home from close range to end a seven-game drought in the league since returning from a four-month ban for biting.
Gerard Pique headed in a third before Messi rounded off the scoring with two stunning finishes in the final 10 minutes. “I was able to score and that helps relax me. I don’t know if we were affected, but the draw with Getafe last week annoyed us. We had to come here on Sunday and show that we’re in the fight for the Liga title,” Suarez said.
“Scoring is always important, but with the support of everyone we all knew that this happy moment would come. I’m a forward and I have to score goals, but I’m also helping the side to achieve its aims.
“For this I hadn’t got too obsessed with getting on the scoresheet. The most important thing was that the team won and we achieved that.”
Pedro was rewarded for his hat-trick in the 8-1 thrashing of Huesca in midweek with a start as Neymar was only fit enough for the bench.
The Canary Islander continued his scoring streak when he latched onto Ivan Rakitic’s intelligent left-footed ball over the top and lashed the ball into the roof of the net to register his sixth goal in as many games.
Suarez was inches away from making his mark with an acrobatic effort that flew into the side-netting before Juan Carlos did well to tip a header from Pique over the bar.
There was nothing the Cordoba ‘keeper could do seven minutes into the second period, however, when Messi, Iniesta and Pedro combined to hand Suarez a glorious chance to get up and running in La Liga and this time the Uruguayan made no mistake with a deft first touch before slotting under Carlos.
Rakitic nearly made it 3-0 moments later in spectacular fashion as he crashed a drive from 25 yards off the post. The Croatian then made way for Xavi Hernandez 25 minutes from time and it was the veteran midfielder who provided a perfect cross for Pique to power home a header to make it 3-0.
Two minutes later Messi got his name in the scoresheet from another set-piece as Cordoba only partially cleared a corner from the right and the four-time World Player of the Year smashed the ball right-footed home off the underside of the bar from the edge of the box.