Barcelona parlayed a dominant first half and goals from Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Marc Bartra into a 4-0 victory over Almeria in La Liga action Wednesday at Camp Nou.
Barcelona padded their lead to seven points ahead of second-place Real Madrid, but Los Blancos efforts against Rayo Vallecano tonight could cancel out the Catalans work with eight matches left on the domestic front. Barcelona have won 21 consecutive matches in all competitions, including 13 straight in La Liga.
The loss extends Almeria’s winless streak to eight, and first under new manager Sergi Barjuan. Almeria remains in 18th on the table and are in increasing danger of relegation.
Striking with his ever dangerous left foot, Messi put the Catalans on the scoreboard in the 33rd minute with defender Bartra notching the assist. Bartra, who started only his eighth La Liga match this term, picked up his third assist of the season by feeding Messi on the right wing. The rest was up to the Argentinian star.
Messi cut past Almeria defender Jose Casado and then split several other defenders with a perfectly curved ball inside the left corner of the net for the 1-0 lead. Messi now has 33 goals on the year, and is two away from 400 career goals with Barcelona.
Running an almost identical play to Messi’s, Suarez doubled the lead in the 55th minute for his ninth goal in a Catalans kit, aided by Dani Alves’ assist. The Uruguayan strutted through Almeria’s defense on the right wing and pelted the ball near the middle of the box with his left foot for 2-0 score.
Suarez would later complete his second brace of the season by tapping Pedro’s unmarked cross into an empty net in extra time.
Bartra was the last to get on the board, heading Xavi’s corner kick again into the left corner for just the third goal of his Catalans career in the 75th minute.
In the first 45 minutes alone, the Catalans ceaselessly pressured Almeria’s back line, forcing six corner kicks while maintaining a 68-32 possession advantage. Barcelona wound up with 14 total corner kicks and 11 shots on goal to Almeria’s three on target.
Almeria’s Espinosa and Angel Trujillo managed to squeeze off two shots in the first half, but goalkeeper Claudio Bravo turned back both and eventually racked up his 17th clean sheet of the year.