Barcelona thump Sporting Gijón 6-0
The MSN continued on from where they left off in Riazor with a 6-0 rout of Sporting. Suárez netted another four, while Messi and Neymar each scored one apiece.
Barcelona reclaim their throne at the top of the league with a 6-0 demolition job against Sporting Gijón. Luis Enrique’s men have answered their critics with 14-0 showing in their last two outings, however, despite tonight’s flattering score line, there were still some iffy moments at the back during the first half.
Barça took an early lead through Messi but could count themselves lucky that Menendez forgot to bring his shooting boots to the Camp Nou. The Sporting midfielder spurned two good chances to draw level during the opening 45 minutes, but was by no means the only rojiblanco who threatened Claudio Bravo’s goal before the break. A clear sense of relief descended over the home supporters when Clos Gómez blew his whistle for half time and the Barcelona players trundled down the tunnel with a narrow 1-0 lead.
Things changed utterly after the break as the heat map topographers were forced to paint a tri-colour picture of molten red around the Sporting box, descending out to a light yellow hue towards the centre circle and then a lush green in Barça’s half of the pitch. Lightning fast passing and a bothersome MSN caused the visitors’ heads to drop and a quick sequence of penalties rubber stamped the result. Arguments can fairly be made that Suárez was offside for the second goal, but the Uruguayan gave the distinct impression that only a strait jacket was going to keep him from getting his name on the scoresheet.
Full time: Barcelona 6-0 Sporting Gijón
Min 86 | 6-0! Suárez! No spot kick needed this time as LaLiga's top scorer beats Cuellar at his near post with a fierce strike. That's eight goals in two games for the the Barça number 9.
Min 84 | 5-0! Neymar steps up this time and, taking a leaf out of his team-mate's book, drives the ball down the middle to complete another good day at the office for the MSN.
Min 83 | Another penalty!! Canella, who has only been on for 15 minutes, is given his marching orders after picking up a second yellow for pulling Neymar by the shoulder as the Brazilian was trying to head the ball.
Min 77 | 4-0!!! Another Suárez pen. Sanabria shoves Neymar to the ground and the ref points to the spot. This time Suárez goes route one and smashes the inert sphere down the middle. The Camp Nou goes wild as the number 9 overtakes Cristiano Ronaldo in the Pichichi race with 32 league goals.
Min 75 | Lucho, true to form, takes off Rakitic and brings on Arda.
Min 75 | Carlos Castro comes on for Guerrero.
Min 74 | 3-0! Suárez penalty! Canella is adjugded to handle the ball in the area and Clos Gómez points to the spot. Suárez fires the ball to the top right corner, Cuellar dives left.
Min 73 | Delightful play there between Neymar and Messi. The Brazilian catches three Sporting defenders flat-footed with a chipped pass to his Argentine team-mate, who juggles the ball with his back to goal and then spins on his standing foot to shoot on goal, but his effort is blocked.
Min 69 | Isma López (who was quite at fault for the second goal) is brought off and replaced by Canella.
Min 65 | Gerard Piqué makes way for Marc Bartra
Min 62 | GOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!! SUÁREZ!!!!!!
Messi starts the move by running towards goal for the umpteenth time tonight then slips a pass to Iniesta who in turn finds the Uruguayan at the back post for the easiest of tap ins. That draws him level with Ronaldo at the top of the Pichichi and Golden Shoe charts (31 league goals).
Min 62 | Sanabria comes on for Pérez
Min 58 | Neymar caught in two minds again by Cuellar. Messi picks out the unmarked Brazilian at the back stick and, with all the time in the world to pick his spot, the number 11 tries to leather the ball into the back of the net only to see the Sporting keeper pounce at his shot.
Min 55 | Messi runs at goal again, weaving right to left before thumping a shot just wide
Min 52 | Neymar starts a great attacking move on the left, squares a ball to Messi who decides to let it roll past him to Suárez. The former Liverpool striker tries to scoop the ball into the far corner of the net but misses the mark much to Cuellar's relief.
Min 53 | Not a yellow shirt in Barça's half of the pitch as the visitors are forced to defend deep as the MSN and co crisply pass the ball around in search of a chink in the armour.
Min 50 | Messi scews a shot wide of the mark. Cuellar looked to have it covered
Sub | Dani Alves is on for Sergi Roberto
Min 46 | The second half is now upon us...
Half time: Barcelona 1-0 Sporting Gijon
Los azulgranas head down the tunnel happy to still be in front after a nervy final flurry to the opening 45 minutes. The hosts have had the lion's share of the chances and thanks to a crafty Messi header were able to take an early lead. Nonetheless, Sporting have kept the Barça backline busy and if not for Menendez's poor finishing, this match could have a completely different complexion.
Min 45 | Controversial end to the first half as Sporting call out Piqué for a hand ball. The visitors first have a shot cleared off the line by Mascherano but only as far as Halilovic who from a very acute angle tries to squeeze the ball between the posts. However, the one-time Man United defender gets in the way of the goalbound shot with what at first glance appears to be his arm, but on second viewing looks more like his rib cage.
Min 42 | What a pass from Messi!! The five-time Ballon d'Or drops deep to recieve the ball in the centre circle and weights a perfect ball between Vranjes and Hernandez and into the path of Neymar. The former Santos man just has the keeper to beat but Cuellar makes himself big and smothers the danger.
Min 39 | Neymar dazzles the Camp Nou and the Gijon defence, cutting in on his right foot and drawing several players out of position as he looks to get a shot away. Instead he lays a back healed pass off for Suárez but the Uruguayan's hasty effort is blocked and goes out for a corner.
Min 34 | Another Menendez chance goes a begging! Guerrero picks out the midfielder at the back post with a bending pass that evades a fully stretched Piqué but again the 24-year-old fails to make a clean connection with the ball.
Min 30 | The Sporting backline cut out a cross to Suárez at the back stick and the ball breaks kindly to Sergi Roberto, but the right back's curled effort goes well over the crossbar.
Min 28 | Uncharacteristically sloppy play by los culés. Under very little pressure Piqué attempts to switch the ball to Jordi Alba put hooks his pass out to touch. Sporting use the opportunity to employ a Rory Delap-esque throw in, which despite being cleared away, poses the Barça backline with an unnecessary problem.
Min 25 | Second time's a charm as Clos Gomez decides to book Vranjes for a shirt tug on Neymar.
Min 23 | Indignation in the Camp Nou as Vranjes tackles Neymar from behind, sending the Brazilian into a heap on the ground. The referee keeps his cards in his pocket but awards a free kick nonetheless.
Min 20 | Barça loanee Halilovic tries his luck from distance and wins a corner in the process. That's the first bit of bite the away team have shown since Mendendez's fluffed effort earlier on.
Min 16 | Cuellar saves!! Messi appears out of nowhere to get on the end of a Suárez knock down, firing a shot low and hard at the target. This time however the Asturians' shot-stopper throws his team a lifeline.
Min 12 | GOOOOOOLLLLLL...Meeeessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!
Iniesta chips a pass over the top in search of Suárez, Cuellar comes out (unconvincingly) to slap the ball away but it only goes as far as Lionel who smartly sends a looping header up and over the stunned Sporting defence and across the line. The visitors are calling for a foul on Cuellar but it just looks like poor goalkeeping on the replay.
Min 11 | Sporting waste a golden opportunity!! Guerrero bombs forward with players in support and picks out Menendez alone at the back post but the 24-year-old fluffs his first-time effort and Bravo scoops up the danger.
Min 8 | Luis Hernández is booed by the Barça fans for having the cheek to go down after Neymar barges into him from behind and rolls over his head.
Min 5 | Nasty late challenge by Busquets on Lichnovsky. The Spain international lucky not to go in the book for that one.
Min 3 | Messi with the first warning shot! A nice flowing move from the hosts. Busquets sprays a ball to the right wing to Sergi Roberto who delivers an inviting ball across the six-yard box towards his Argentine team-mate, but the number 10 sends his header over the bar.
Min 1 | The expectant Camp Nou faithful have taken to their seats and the referee sounds his whistle to signal the start of the match...
Today's man in black: Carlos Clos Gómez
Barcelona edged past Málaga 2-1 the last time the 42-year-old officiated one of their games, while Sporting last met the Zaragoza official in February in a 2-2 draw at home to Rayo Vallecano.
Barça XI: Claudio Bravo; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Mascherano, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Messi, Luis Suárez, Neymar
Sporting XI: Cuellar; Vranjes, Luis Hernández, Lichnovsky, Isma López; Mascarell, Rachid; Pablo Pérez, Jalilovic, Álex Menéndez; Guerrero
Hello and welcome to our live text coverage of Barcelona's LaLiga week 35 clash with Sporting Gijón, which kicks off at 20:30 CEST.
Hosts Barça come into the encounter fresh from dishing out an 8-0 walloping to Deportivo La Coruña in midweek, Luis Suárez netting four in a thumping that arrested a run of one point in four top-flight matches.
That winless streak allowed Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid to roar back into title contention - Los Rojiblancos now sit level on points with the leaders, Real one behind - and Luis Enrique's men know that, as at Riazor, only a victory will do today.
Indeed, having headed the table since early November, the Camp Nou side could even start this evening's game provisionally down in third place, as both Real and Atlético are in action earlier in the day.
Barça, who welcome Gerard Piqué back after serving a one-match suspension, will be looking for the 'MSN' of Leo Messi, Pichichi-chasing Suárez and Neymar to continue where they left off against Depor.
The thrashing was the first time all three had scored since beating Arsenal in mid-March, and saw the Brazilian end a barren spell in front of goal lasting exactly a month.
Relegation-threatened Sporting make their way to the Camp Nou having boosted their survival hopes no end with a huge win over Sevilla last time out; however, with Granada also triumphing in week 34, they remain in the drop zone, one point below the Andalusians.
The Asturians, coached by Enrique's long-time friend Abelardo Fernández - the pair played together for both of today's teams - make the trip to the Ciudad Condal without several regulars, but with on-loan Barça starlet Alen Halilovic set to start.
It'll be an emotional return for Gijón boss Abelardo, with the 46-year-old making his visit as a coach to the club where spent eight years as a player.
Join us for the build-up and all the action!