Lionel Messi’s rich vein of scoring form continued as he hit a double to set another La Liga record as leaders Barcelona eased to a comfortable 4-0 win over Eibar at Ipurua.
Messi made it 15 goals in his last 10 outings with a sublime individual breakaway strike after 41 minutes and a second-half penalty following a harsh handball decision against Ivan Ramis.
Luis Enrique selected Munir El Haddadi to fill in for the suspended Neymar and he responded by rounding off a lovely move to put Barca on course for an 11th successive top-flight victory after just eight minutes.
Ramis went close to an equaliser for Eibar, but they were punished on the break by Messi prior to half-time – the Argentine becoming the first player to net 20 Liga goals in eight different seasons.
After the restart, Jose Luis Mendilibar’s team, who have now lost seven of their last eight, posed little threat to Barca, with Messi improving on Barca’s dreadful record from the penalty spot in La Liga this season – the Catalans have missed seven spot-kicks in the top-flight this term – by adding his second from 12 yards.
Luis Suarez capped Barca’s 36th game in all competitions without defeat with the fourth, opening up a temporary 11-point lead at the Liga summit ahead of Atletico Madrid’s trip to Valencia later on Sunday.
The absence of Neymar did not hamper the fluidity of Barca’s attack, as they took the lead through his replacement with just eight minutes on the clock.
A brilliant pass from Messi released Suarez down the right and the Uruguayan squared the ball to the back post for Munir to convert.
Suarez missed a chance of his own two minutes later and Eibar responded positively with Ramis heading narrowly over from Josip Radosevic’s cross.
However, Barca dominated possession and, after being refused a penalty when Aleksandar Pantic appeared to block Jordi Alba’s cross with his arm, missed a glorious chance to double their lead in the 32nd minute.
Messi dinked a delightful ball in behind the defence for Munir, who put too much power behind his attempt to tee up Suarez for a simple finish and sent it wide.
Mendilibar’s team again produced a strong reaction, but went into the interval two goals down following a fine solo strike by Messi.
The Argentine was allowed to dribble at the defence and into the box on the counter-attack, creating enough space up against Ander Capa to fire a shot inside the far post.
Messi looked set to add to his tally seven minutes after the restart, but a dreadful first touch from Suarez’s cutback enabled the Eibar defence to get in a tackle this time.
Chances were few and far between thereafter, but Messi finally got his second in the 76th minute, calmly slotting home from a spot-kick following a handball by Ramis, who was on the floor after attempting to make a sliding block.
There was still time for Luis Enrique’s team to add another, as Suarez lashed a low finish beyond Eibar goalkeeper Asier Riesgo with six minutes remaining – the Uruguayan’s strike meaning, he, Messi and Neymar have now scored a combined 100 goals this season.
Key Opta stats:
– Barcelona have won all of their four La Liga meetings against Eibar.
– Luis Suarez has provided assists in four of his last six league games (six overall).
– This has been the second time in which Eibar conceded four goals in a La Liga home game (0-4 vs Real Madrid on November 2014).
– Lionel Messi has scored four of Barcelona’s six goals at Ipurua in the top tier.
– Eibar are the only side yet to have won points in games they have been trailing in La Liga this season.
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