2016/2017 Spanish Primera División
  • Alberto Lora (74')
  • Luis Suárez (29')
  • Rafinha (32')
  • Neymar (81', 88')
  • Arda Turan (85')

Barcelona make light of Messi absence to thrash Sporting Gijon

Barcelona began their run of matches without Lionel Messi with a 5-0 win over Sporting Gijon at El Molinon.

An adductor injury is expected to sideline Messi for around three weeks, but Barca got the job done against Sporting without him.

The other two-thirds of the 'MSN' strike force, Luis Suarez and Neymar, played their part in covering for Messi's absence, scoring three goals between them.

Suarez got the ball rolling just before the half-hour and Rafinha headed in a second to put the champions in control.

Alberto Lora's dismissal in the 74th minute made it an uphill struggle for the hosts, with Neymar grabbing his first goal in the 82nd minute and Arda Turan's header making it four two minutes later.

The final word came from Neymar with two minutes to go as Barcelona returned to winning ways after their draw with Atletico Madrid in midweek.

Neymar was the first to test Sporting goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar with a 13th-minute overhead kick.

Then Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen caught the ball and advanced marginally outside his area. A free-kick was awarded, but Abelardo Fernandez' side could do nothing meaningful with it.

Andre Gomes rifled a shot over for the visitors in the 27th minute, but two minutes later Barca had their opener, Suarez racing onto a long ball over the Sporting defence, rounding Cuellar and tucking it home.

The lead was doubled in the 32nd minute as Sergi Roberto broke clear down the right and his cross was met with a diving header by Rafinha.

The first opportunity of the second period went Sporting's way as Victor Fernandez drew a near-post save from Ter Stegen in the 56th minute, although Lillo was lucky not to be sent off soon afterwards for an elbow to the face of Turan.

Jeremy Mathieu, who scored in Barca's home defeat to Alaves a fortnight ago, had an effort ruled out on the hour after Gerard Pique had strayed offside.

Suarez was replaced by Paco Alcacer with 20 minutes to go and Sporting were reduced to 10 men when Lora fouled Roberto and was shown a second yellow card.

The game was put beyond any doubt in the 82nd minute when Neymar poked home a rebound after the ball had been tipped onto the crossbar by Cuellar.

Turan then headed home before Neymar got his second -- Barca's third in six minutes -- when he raced on to Denis Suarez's pass and fired a low shot past Cuellar.

He almost completed a stunning hat-trick in injury time, but his curling effort struck the post.

Spanish Primera División Standings

1 Barcelona 21 +25 43
2 Real Madrid 20 +25 43
3 Sevilla FC 21 +7 38
4 Atletico Madrid 20 +8 35
5 Valencia 21 +3 34
6 Getafe 20 +9 33
7 Villarreal 21 +7 31
8 Athletic Bilbao 21 +7 31
9 Real Sociedad 20 +5 31
10 Osasuna 21 +3 28
11 Real Betis 20 -3 27
12 Granada 21 -3 27
13 Levante 21 -6 26
14 Alavés 21 -9 23
15 Real Valladolid 20 -6 22
16 Eibar 20 -9 22
17 Mallorca 20 -12 18
18 Celta Vigo 20 -13 16
19 Espanyol 21 -21 15
20 Leganes 20 -17 14