Barcelona thrive despite Lionel Messi’s absence

Barcelona thrive despite Lionel Messi’s absence

Barcelona didn't seem to feel the absence of Lionel Messi as Luis Suarez and Neymar led the rout of Sporting Gijon.

barcelona, neymar, luis suarez, lionel messi, arda turan, sergi roberto, suarez, la liga, football news, sports news
Neymar scored twice while Luis Suarez, Rafinha and Arda Turan all found the target as Barcelona cruised to a 5-0 win over Sporting Gijon. (REUTERS)

Luis Suarez and Rafinha scored in the first half before three late goals in seven minutes including two from Neymar gave Barcelona a 5-0 win at 10-man Sporting Gijon on Saturday, their first game this season without Lionel Messi.  After a dull start by the visitors, Arda Turan set up Suarez and the Uruguayan rounded Sporting goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar to tap in the opener in the 29th minute.

Rafinha then headed in Sergi Roberto’s cross at the near post for the second three minutes later. Sporting lost captain Alberto Lora to a second yellow card for a late challenge on Roberto in the 74th minute.

With nine minutes remaining, substitute Paco Alcacer hit the crossbar but Neymar pounced on the rebound and tapped in. Sergi Roberto came up with his second assist of the game when his cross found Turan’s header for Barca’s fourth in the 85th minute and Neymar got his second two minutes from time with a close-range strike past Cuellar.

Barcelona, held to a 1-1 home draw by Atletico Madrid on Wednesday when Messi sustained a groin injury that ruled him out of action for three weeks, have 13 points from their first six La Liga games. They are level at the top of the table with Real Madrid, who can go clear again when they play at Las Palmas later on Saturday.