El Clasico: Messi-less Barcelona decimate Real Madrid 5-1
Injured Lionel Messi watches from stands as Luis Suarez scores a hat-trick to ensure Barcelona decimate Real Madrid 5-1
Philippe Coutinho gave Barcelona an early lead in El Clasico to pile the pressure on under-fire Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui. Madrid have drawn one and lost three of their last four league games, and fell behind in the 11th minute at the Nou Camp. Jordi Alba was allowed time and space on the left of Madrid's penalty area and pulled the ball back for Coutinho to side-foot it into the net from 10 yards.
Barcelona almost doubled their lead on 18 minutes when Sergio Ramos was guilty of giving the ball away in a dangerous area but Arthur's fierce shot was saved by Thibaut Courtois. But the home fans did not have to wait long before their side made it 2-0 from the penalty spot, although it took the use of the VAR before the referee pointed to the spot, after Luis Suarez was brought down by Raphael Varane. Suarez took the penalty himself. Despite his assists for both goals, Alba continued to be given the freedom of Barcelona down the left and Madrid were grateful that his cross on 38 minutes was just too high for Suarez.
Moments later Ivan Rakitic and Nacho became the first players to be booked for fouls on Toni Kroos and Coutinho respectively, before Rafinha badly overhit a pass that should have set Suarez clean through on goal. Rafinha attempted to make amends with a curling 20-yard shot which flew just over the bar and Madrid were grateful to get to the half-time whistle only two goals behind.
Madrid had been restricted to long-range shots in the opening period but were back in the contest after just five minutes of the second half as Isco's cross from the byline caused panic in the home defence and Marcelo controlled the ball on his chest before stabbing home. The visitors were almost level five minutes later when Luka Modric's right-foot shot slammed into the post and ran across goal to safety.
At the other end Suarez also hit the woodwork with an acrobatic volley as the game began to live up to its billing. Madrid missed a great chance to equalise on 67 minutes when Karim Benzema headed over from six yards after a pinpoint cross from half-time substitute Lucas Vazquez. And they were made to pay seven minutes later when Suarez showed Benzema how it should be done, heading home from more than twice the distance after being set up by Sergi Roberto.
Suarez's smart finish
Roberto was also the provider for Suarez's hat-trick goal on 82 minutes, dispossessing Ramos and releasing Uruguay forward to clip the ball over the advancing Courtois. And there was still time for Barcelona to make it 5-1, Ousmane Dembele providing the perfect cross for fellow substitute Arturo Vidal to head past a defenceless Courtois.
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