Suárez double fires Barca to victory in Catalan Derby

La Liga

Espanyol 0-3 FC Barcelona

Luis Suárez scored twice as Barcelona moved back to the top of La Liga after a 3-0 derby win at Espanyol.

With Real Madrid having produced a late victory over Valencia earlier, the pressure was firmly back on Luis Enrique’s side.

Unlike at Málaga this month, there was no slip up as Suárez latched on to a stray backpass to put Barcelona ahead early in the second half.

Ivan Rakitic made sure of the points with 15 minutes left when he slotted in on the break before Suárez rolled in a late third following more shambolic defending from the hosts.

Barcelona were without captain Andrés Iniesta through a groin injury, but had Brazil forward Neymar available again following his suspension.

Suárez returned to lead the attack after being an unused substitute for the 7-1 trashing of bottom club Osasuna at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night.

Espanyol, meanwhile, were looking to respond against their local rivals following two LaLiga matches without a victory as they aimed to cement a place in the top 10.

The home side created an early opening when José Manuel Jurado was played into the Barcelona area but shot wide.

Barcelona slowly grew into the game, and as the half-hour passed Suárez cut inside, but could not find either Neymar and Lionel Messi in the Espanyol penalty area before Sergi Roberto sent a header into the sidenetting.

Suárez had been without a goal in three games, but was gifted the opener five minutes into the second half.

Midfielder Jurado decided to play a long diagonal ball back towards his goalkeeper from the right, which allowed Suárez to race clear and fire past the exposed Diego López.

Neymar was close to adding a second on the hour with a curling shot which Lopez tipped over.

At the other end, Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was finally called into some meaningful action when he smothered Jurado’s angled drive.

With quarter-of-an-hour left, Rakitic made it 2-0 after Lionel Messi charged into the Espanyol penalty area before rolling the ball sideways for the Croatian to slot inside the far post.

On 85 minutes, Espanyol pressed the self-destruct button again as Aaron Martin completely missed his attempted clearance in the six-yard box, with the ball spinning to the feet of Suárez who sidestepped the keeper before tapping into the net.

Barcelona moved back level on points with Real Madrid, top on head-to-head record, but having played a match more than their title rivals.

Marcelo came to Real Madrid’s rescue to secure a 2-1 win over Valencia, provisionally taking Zinedine Zidane’s side three points clear at the top of La Liga, moments after they had conceded a potentially crucial equaliser.

At the bottom, Granada, managed by Tony Adams for the remainder of the season, were relegated following a 2-1 defeat at Real Sociedad, leaving Adams’s side 10 points adrift of safety with three games left. They join basement club Osasuna in the Segunda Division next season.

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