10th March, 2019
They had to come back from a goal down but no one was really troubled about that as the “Goal Machines” of Barcelona got into their normal stride. At the end, they bashed Rayo Vallecano by three solid goals to one at the Camp Nou on Saturday.
This win enabled Barcelona to restore their seven-point lead at the top of LaLiga with the gap having earlier been cut to four points after Atletico Madrid beat Leganes 1-0.
Ernesto Valverde named a surprisingly strong side just four days out from the second leg of a Champions League tie with Lyon and got the result he wanted as his side did not disappoint him.
Rayo Vallecano had actually looked like handing Atletico’s prospects of overhauling the defending champions a boost when they opened the scoring through Raul de Tomas’ fine strike.
All of that was short-lived as Gerard Pique levelled in the 38th minute before Lionel Messi’s penalty and a late third from Luis Suarez ensured Barca still have plenty of breathing room at the summit.
The visitors had started the game brightly and were denied what looked a decent shout for a penalty when Pique appeared to pull down De Tomas just inside the area.
A few minutes later, only the fine reflexes of Stole Dimitrievski prevented Suarez from opening the scoring as the Macedonia international turned his low effort behind.
Then came a shocker as the Camp Nou crowd was then silenced as a goal was scored at the other end. De Tomas cut in from the left and took on Pique and Nelson Semedo before unleashing a powerful bending effort beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen and into the bottom-right corner.
Pique then wasted a gilt-edged chance just after the half hour, sending a close-range header well wide, but atoned for that miss as the centre-back nodded home Messi’s right-wing free-kick.
The come-back for the hosts continued six minutes after the restart with Lionel Messi casually beating Dimitrievski from 12 yards, punishing Jordi Amat for an ill-advised challenge on Semedo on the right side of the box.
Jose Pozo flashed an effort wide as Rayo sought an equaliser and, though Alex Moreno did well to head a seemingly goal-bound Messi free-kick behind, Rayo could not prevent Suarez from tapping in a third after combining superbly with Ivan Rakitic.
In this game where few Barca players were in top form, Suarez was impressive. He was unlucky not to open the scoring and the goal that clinched it was a treat for those inside Camp Nou.