Barcelona 4-0 Deportivo La Coruna: Sublime Barca See Off Depor & Open Six-Point Lead in La Liga
Barcelona stretched their current unbeaten league run to 23 games on Sunday evening thanks to a classy 4-0 win over
Barcelona hit the post, Paulinho scores the rebound. Twice in the same game. Much to be said for being in the right place at the right time…
— Ben Hayward (@bghayward) December 17, 2017
Messi is the first player to miss (at least) 3 La Liga penalties for Barcelona in a single calendar year since Samuel Eto’o (3) in 2005
— MESSISTATS (@MessiStats_) December 17, 2017
It was a measured opening inside a fairly sparse Camp Nou, with the hosts, as expected, seeing the majority of possession, and it took until just the third minute for the first clear chance of the evening.
Following steady possession Barca turned up the tempo and carved open a fairly attacking Deportivo line-up, allowing injury returnee Andres Iniesta to open his legs on right-hand side of the area before squaring a simple cross across the face of goal.
The Spaniard’s set up looked destined to find a blue and red shirt, which it did, however rather remarkably Messi, who picked up the golden shoe award for his 2016-17 season haul before proceedings began, lifted his attempt uncharacteristically over the top of Ruben’s crossbar and allowed the visitors a huge let off.
Just a few moments later Depor found more fortune, this time thanks to the linesman, who spotted Paco Alcacer had strayed into an offside position before teeing up Suarez for the simplest of tap-ins, keeping the scores goalless.
That is the way things stayed for a short period, but only down to the goalkeeping heroics of the visitors’ shot stopper, who made three smart saves in the matter of a few minutes.
Ruben was able to halt Messi on two occasions, however it was the 33-year-old’s fingertip block against substitute
Messi’s 200 assists with Barcelona:
142 — La Liga
026 — Champions League
025 — Copa del Rey
004 — Spanish Super Cup
002 — European Super Cup
001 — Club World Cup #Messi200
— MESSISTATS (@MessiStats_) December 17, 2017
But the Spaniard could do nothing to keep his side level shortly afterwards, as a combination of Iniesta’s sublime lock-picking pass from deep, Messi’s perfectly timed run – which got the better of Depor’s offside trap – and the 30-year-old’s cushioned squared cross into the path of Suarez for a tap in finally gave Barca their deserved lead.
The hosts then came within a lick of paint to doubling their advantage, as a quick breakaway afforded the little magician the chance to bear down on goal before attempting to feed his Uruguayan teammate.
Instead of taking the effort on himself, Suarez’s quick return pass to his fellow South American on the edge of the area allowed the Argentine to dispatch his effort which cannoned back off the crossbar and allowed
Barcelona have now hit the post 23 times this season. That’s insane. #fcblive
— totalBarça (@totalBarca) December 17, 2017
But with just seconds remaining in the first-half, Barca again found themselves subject to a goal-line dispute, as for the second time this season, and third this calendar year, it appeared Ernesto Valverde’s side were wrongly refused a legal goal.
Admittedly, unlike the duo previously, replays were not completely conclusive, however with the angles on offer, Suarez’s rabona finish from close range did appear to cross the line.
But, as has become a trend for Barcelona, the officials said no, leaving the hosts with a two-goal advantage going into the break.
However, less than two minutes into the second-half Suarez did grab his second goal of the evening.
Following simply sublime and intricate build-up play in the centre of the park, Sergi Roberto was found in space on the right-hand wing before whipping in a first-time, inch-perfect low cross towards the back post which was met by the 30-year-old talisman, allowing a simple finish from close range to put the game to bed.
But three did not seem enough for the hosts, nor Messi, who with 20 minutes to go rattled the woodwork for the third time of the evening after bending a superb free-kick round the Depor wall and beating custodian Ruben at full stretch.
Again, just moments later it looked to be confirmed it was not going to be the Argentina international’s night in front of goal, as the usually so clinical attacker was denied from the penalty spot by a strong left-hand of the ageing visitors’ custodian after Suarez was hacked down inside the area by Federico Valverde.
However, with 15 minutes to go Barca did notch their fourth of the evening, as for the second time of the night Paulinho was on hand to finish from close range following a rebound off the post – this time coming from Jordi Alba’s attempted slotted effort from the left-hand side of the area.
Did Barcelona do some sort of wall-passing exercise in training? Another ‘assist’ off the woodwork
— Rik Sharma (@riksharma_) December 17, 2017
That is the way things stayed and Barcelona now hold a six-point gap over Atletico Madrid following Valencia’s slip up earlier in the weekend heading into the first El Clasico of the season.