Barcelona ‘take advantage of the space’ says Luis Enrique and stomp Leganes

If Barcelona had been 'thinking we just needed to turn up to win' said Luis Enrique on Saturday, 'then we would have struggled a lot more'. But they had the right attitude in a 5-1 victory.
Barcelona's Neymar, top, celebrates with teammate Luis Suarez after a goal on Saturday. Paul White / AP Photo / September 17, 2016
Barcelona's Neymar, top, celebrates with teammate Luis Suarez after a goal on Saturday. Paul White / AP Photo / September 17, 2016

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were all on target as Barcelona got back to winning ways in the Primera Liga with a 5-1 thrashing at newly promoted Leganes on Saturday.

Barca suffered a shock 2-1 home defeat to Alaves last weekend, but despite a bright start from the hosts there was to be no repeat of that upset once Suarez teed up Messi to open the scoring after 15 minutes.

Suarez and Neymar tapped home to give Barca a healthy half-time lead before a Messi penalty and wonder strike from Rafinha made it 5-0.

Gabriel Appelt Pires’ fine free-kick pulled a goal back for Leganes 10 minutes from time.

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• In pictures: Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar put the swagger back in Barcelona

Barca move level with Real Madrid at the top of the table, but Madrid play their game in hand away to Espanyol without the injured Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale on Sunday.

“We started very well. If we had started sluggishly, thinking we just needed to turn up to win, then we would have struggled a lot more,” said Barca manager Luis Enrique.

Messi, Suarez and Neymar started together for only the second time this season and, just as in a 7-0 thrashing of Celtic on Tuesday, showed no mercy as Leganes’ high defensive line was torn apart in the first-half.

“On one hand their high pressing made things uncomfortable, but on the other hand it meant we could take advantage of the space,” added Enrique.

The hosts were given a warning when Diego Rico blocked Messi’s goalbound effort from Barca’s first counter-attack.

However, Leganes were punished moments later when Suarez showed great strength to burst down the right and his low cross was easily turned home by Messi.

The roles were reversed for Barca’s second when Messi was gifted possession inside the Leganes half and waltzed past two defenders before teeing up Suarez for a tap-in.

Leganes did pose a threat going forward as Venezuelan winger Darwin Marchis caused Javier Mascherano, playing in an unfamiliar role on the right of Barca’s defence, no end of problems.

Marchis was desperately unlucky not to halve Barca’s advantage when he was denied by a goal-line block from Samuel Umtiti having beaten Mascherano and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Suarez bagged his second assist of the half just before the break when he was released clear on goal and selflessly squared for Neymar this time to roll into an empty net.

All of Barca’s front three were involved for the fourth 10 minutes after the break as Neymar latched onto Suarez’s ball over the top and was dragged down by Unai Bustinza.

Messi showed no signs of the penalty yips he suffered last season and at the Copa America in June as he fired into the top corner for his eighth goal in as many games this season.

However, the two best goals of the afternoon were still to come as Rafinha cut inside onto his weaker left foot to unleash a rocket into the top corner for Barca’s fifth.

And Leganes got the reward their display merited 10 minutes from time when Gabriel curled a sensational free-kick past the helpless Ter Stegen.

Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres struck twice as Atletico Madrid meanwhile moved into third with their third win of the week in a 5-0 rout of Sporting Gijon.

Atletico will travel to the Catalan capital in midweek full of confidence after a mauling of Sporting registered their first home win of the season.

Griezmann took just two minutes to open the scoring when he raced onto Kevin Gameiro’s through ball before composing himself to slot past Ivan Cuellar.

Gameiro lashed home his first Atletico goal from open play following a move from Sevilla just three minutes later.

Not to be outdone by his French international teammate, Griezmann then unleashed a stunning effort of his own from outside the box to make it 3-0 after just half an hour.

Atletico manager Diego Simeone, who shortened his contract from 2020 to 2018 in midweek, replaced Griezmann with Torres early in the second-half with one eye on his side’s upcoming trip the Camp Nou.

Torres made it 4-0 with a neat near-post finish from Angel Correa’s cross before rounding off the scoring from the penalty spot after Nicolas Gaitan had been felled inside the area.

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Published: September 17, 2016 04:00 AM

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