The absence of Lionel Messi didn’t faze Barcelona as Alexis Sanchez scored two goals and Neymar added a goal and an assist as the Catalans defeated Real Valladolid 4-1 at Camp Nou on Saturday evening.
Barcelona are now a perfect eight-for-eight in La Liga play this season.
Messi sat out with a thigh injury sustained in the first half against Almeria a week ago, and forwards Cristian Tello and Sanchez took over on the pitch against Valladolid.
Though he looked impressive against Celtic in Tuesday’s Champions league 1-0 victory, Neymar did not start in Messi’s usual spot. Still the Brazilian was more than effective against Valladolid, assisting Sanchez on his second goal in the 64th and netting his own goal in 70th minute.
Tello proved a smart nod by Barcelona Gerardo Martino, as the Spanish generated two assists, including the winner in the 52nd minute to midfielder Xavi. It was Tello’s second start of the season, and sixth overall appearance.
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All told the Catalans scored three of their four goals during an 18 minute stretch midway through the second half.
Sanchez kept things even until the second half with his strike in 14th minute. Xavi would follow up in the 52nd, and Sanchez would score again in the 64th before Neymar capped the day with his second career La Liga goal in the 70th.
Vallodolid was up 1-0 for four minutes after a goal from Javi Guerro in the 10th minute, but the lead eventually crumbled during the Catalans second half onslaught.
Following a corner, midfielder Patrick Ebert sailed a cross to the striker Guerra, who headed home his fourth goal of the season for a 1-0 advantage.
In the 14th minute, Tello found Sanchez alone at the top of the Valladolid box, and the Chilean gave the ball a few touches before splitting defenders with a powerful right-footed equalizer to the top right corner past keeper Diego Marino.
Later, Neymar danced through the heart of the Valladolid defense, and placed a back-heeled pass to Tello, who found Xavi in the middle of the box for his second goal of this La Liga campaign and a 2-1 lead.
Since Valladolid's return to La Liga in 2011, the Catalans have now won all three of the meetings. Pucela frustration was evident with midfielders Zakara Berdich, Omar Ramos, and Fausto Rossini each booked.