Suarez Brace, Rakitic Strike Sends Luis Enrique’s Side To The Top

Suarez Brace, Rakitic Strike Sends Luis Enrique’s Side To The Top
Barcelona moved to the top of LaLiga courtesy of a 3-0 win over city rivals Espanyol, with Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic on target.

Barcelona leapfrogged Real Madrid in the title race as second-half goals
from Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic secured a convincing 3-0 victory over
Espanyol in the Catalonian derby.

Luis Enrique’s side – who would have been behind early on at Estadi
Cornella-El Prat had Jurado made the most of a golden opportunity – were
found lacking in the first half of Saturday’s clash, but Suarez came up
with the goods early in the second period.

Jurado was the architect of Espanyol’s downfall, as his sloppy back
pass teed up the Uruguayan, who made no mistake in netting his 25th
LaLiga goal of the season – and his first in four games.

It was a cruel blow for Quique Sanchez Flores’ side, who had more than held their own in a scrappy opening half.

And the result was wrapped up for Barca late on, Rakitic sliding a
composed finish across Diego Lopez following a fantastic run from Lionel
Messi before Suarez capitalised on another defensive mistake to add a
third.

The victory represents a 16th consecutive victory for Barca against
their local rivals, and moves Luis Enrique’s side top of the pile in
LaLiga with three games remaining.

After a frantic start, it was Espanyol who should have opened the
scoring six minutes in. Felipe Caicedo threaded a neat pass into Jurado
who somehow failed to hit the target from 10 yards out.

Barca did not take long to respond as Neymar – returning to Luis
Enrique’s starting XI following a three-match suspension – found space,
only to see his goalbound strike blocked by David Lopez.

Espanyol’s defence was well organised, though, and despite dominating
possession Barca were unable to find a way through their hosts’ stubborn
backline.

Indeed, it was nothing more than a hopeful cross from Neymar that
created Barca’s best chance of the first half but, unmarked at the back
post, Sergi Roberto could only direct his header into the side netting.

Neymar continued to provide Barca’s greatest threat as the interval
approached, though the Brazil star could only drill a first-time effort
wide after latching on to Suarez’s clever pass.

Espanyol’s work came undone five minutes into the second half, however.

Jurado attempted a needlessly complicated back pass, and Suarez duly
pounced to prod a neat finish past the advancing Diego Lopez.

Espanyol were carved open again shortly after – Neymar weaving his
way to the byline before unleashing a cross-cum-shot that Diego Lopez
managed to parry clear.

Former Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez was at his best again on the
hour mark, brilliantly tipping over Neymar’s dipping strike that was
destined for the top-right corner.

Jurado looked to atone for his error with just under 20 minutes
remaining, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen reacted instinctively to keep out
the midfielder’s volley.

However, any hopes of an Espanyol comeback were ended in the 76th
minute – Messi slaloming his way through the hosts’ defence before
teeing up Rakitic for Barca’s second.

Barca were not finished there though, Suarez making the most of Aaron Martin’s blunder to tuck home from close range.