Luis Suarez and Neymar make up for Lionel Messi absence as Barcelona thrash Sporting Gijón
Barcelona shrugged off the absence of Lionel Messi to score five away from home for the second successive Saturday as Luis Suarez and Neymar were on target in a 5-0 thrashing of Sporting Gijón.
The hosts enjoyed the better of the opening half-hour, but they were hit by a two-goal burst in three minutes as Suarez rounded Ivan Cuellar to slot home the opener before Rafinha headed home a second.
Sporting were reduced to 10 men 16 minutes from time when Alberto Lora saw a second yellow card and Barca made their man advantage count as a Neymar double and Arda Turan rounded off the scoring in the final 10 minutes.
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Barca manager Luis Enrique made five changes to the side that started Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid as Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic, Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba joined the hurt Messi, who has picked up a groin injury, by dropping out.
Barca looked unsettled in the early stages and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was lucky to escape further punishment when he gave away a free-kick for handling outside his area with the score still goalless.
But one moment of skill from Suarez turned the game in Barca’s favour as he raced onto Turan’s through ball and flicked the ball past the onrushing Cuellar before slotting into an empty net.
A fine team goal put the game beyond Sporting moments later as Neymar freed Sergi Roberto down the right and Rafinha met his cross with a powerful near-post header.
Barca appeared to have eased up in the second half ahead of Wednesday’s visit to Borussia Monchengladbach in the Uefa Champions League as Sergio Busquets and Suarez were replaced by Denis Suarez and Paco Alcacer.
However, the goals flowed after Lora dived in on Roberto to leave his side a man light.
Paco Alcacer was denied his first Barca goal when he smashed the ball off the underside of the bar, but Neymar mopped up the rebound to make it three. Roberto was the provider once more for the fourth as Turan powered home his cross at the back post four minutes later.
Denis Suarez then teed up Neymar to sweep home his second of the game two minutes from time, and the Brazilian could even have had a hat-trick when he curled another effort off the post in stoppage time.
Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid will seek to maintain their unbeaten start to the season on Sunday as they play host to Deportivo La Coruna.
Atletico manager Diego Simeone said he was considering make changes to his line-up after the Barcelona game and praised the depth of the squad at his disposal. “As always, we will go onto pitch thinking who can decide the game in the best way possible,” Simeone said.
“From here to Wednesday many things can happen. The intention is to go out onto the pitch with those players who we think can resolve the game.
“The squad is younger than other seasons, [Nicolas] Gaitan and [Kevin] Gameiro have given us experience but we have a very good squad and that strengthens the team.”
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Published: September 24, 2016 04:00 AM