FC Barcelona made Spanish history last night as they extended their unbeaten run to 35 game surpassing a record set by Real Madrid in the 70’s. The match was an entertaining encounter with six goals,two red cards and a missed penalty. Barcelona were without the suspended Dani Alves which saw Sergi Roberto deployed in the right back role while Jeremy Mathieu replaced Jordi Alba at left back but these changes didn’t help Rayo Vallecano’s cause.
Rayo did well to fend off Barcelona’s early advances towards the opener but it was their goalkeeper Juan Carlos who gifted the visitors the lead. Carlos rose well to claim a cross but as he came to ground he let the ball slip out of his hands much to the pleasure of the waiting Ivan Rakitic who calmly nestled the ball into the net with 22 minutes played. Just one minute later Rayo were two down. Neymar combined with Lionel Messi who slotted the ball into the left corner of the goal. That was the first of three goals on the night for Messi. With four minutes remaining in the first half Diego Llorenre was sent off following his sliding challenge on Ivan Rakitic. It was a tough decision for the referee. In real time he appears to out of control as he slides into Rakitic injuring the Croatian’s knee. However in slow-motion he gets the ball first before hitting the Barca player. A controversial decision but to be fair to the referee it looked quit serious on first viewing
Messi’s second goal wouldn’t come until the second half. Sergi Roberto’s cross found the waiting Luis Suárez who hammed the ball off the post. However Messi was on hand to tap home the rebound despite the flailing effort of Juan Carlos.
Rayo did regain some pride four minutes later. Barcelona lost possession at the back. Paco Jemez’s side took their time before delivering a cross which found Bebe who’s header across the face of goal bounced up to the unmarked Manucho who secured Rayo’s only goal of the game with a simple nod home. Next came yet another Barcelona penalty miss. Neymar’s 68th minute free kick hit the post and fell to Sergio Busquets. The Spaniard was tackled from behind by Iturra. A clear penalty and red card worsening Rayo’s woes. Lionel Messi passed up the opportunity to complete his hat-trick instead leaving it to Suárez. The Uruguayan’s effort was not struck with enough venom and was at a perfect height for Juan Carlos who easily saved the shot. Messi didn’t wait too long before completing his 35th career hat-trick in style. Busquet’s played a beautifully weighted through ball into the path of the Argentinian who had somehow lost the attention of the remaining Rayo defenders. His speed was too much for the center backs as they attempted to stop him. He took his time before calmly passing the ball into the far corner. 4-1 with 72 minutes played.
Barcelona’s next goal will live long in the memory of it’s goalscorer Arda Turan as it was his first for the club. The Turk shaked off his maker leaving himself completely unmarked at the back post where his diving header from a Mathieu cross beat the keeper and finally opened his goal scoring account with the Catalans since his registration in January. Neymar picked up a yellow card a minute after the goal and as a result he will miss Sunday’s game away to Eibar as he has now accumulated five yellow cards.
Last nights victory sees FC Barcelona maintain their eight point advantage over Atletico Madrid who sit in second and keeps rivals Real Madrid a massive twelve points off the top. Last night also saw Barcelona score their 300th goal under the management of Luis Enrique who hasn’t even been managing them for two full seasons! 35 games unbeaten- the question on every La Liga fan is asking themselves is who will stop this Barca side? Eibar will try their best on Sunday afternoon but it will certainly take a colossal effort.