Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez destroyed Sevilla in eight deadly first-half minutes in Barcelona’s 3-0 win over Jorge Sampaoli’s side on Wednesday.
With a little help from the third amigo Neymar they put the game beyond doubt inside the first 33 minutes to keep the pressure on Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.
The signs that Sevilla might be in for a tough night were there early. Messi shook the frame of the goal on six minutes with a shot from the edge of the area after he had been teed-up by Suarez.
The Uruguayan striker then appealed for a penalty when Nico Pareja dragged him down from behind. There was a second penalty shout inside a minute when Samir Nasri looked to have handled in the area and Andres Iniesta then tested Sergio Rico with a shot from the edge of the area – it was all Barcelona.
Pique was then booked; ruling him out of Barcelona’s next game against Malaga at the weekend. If it was deliberate it was very early in the game and he finally had some defending to do as Steven N’Zonzi went past Javier Mascherano and should have scored.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen made the save with Nasri screaming for the pass on the edge of the six-yard box. Vitolo then headed just over as Sevilla continued to push. Then in two minutes they were pushed over.
First came Suarez’s overhead kick on the edge of the area from Messi’s cross on 25 minutes. No player has been involved in more goals for his team in the league since the start of the 2015-16 season.
It was his 62nd goal in that time and he already has 26 assists. Assist No 27 followed shortly afterwards. Messi scored the goal after Neymar’s long cross ran all the way out to Suarez. He pulled the ball back intelligently for Messi who scored.
He dedicated the goal to a campaign to raise money for a new children’s cancer clinic in Barcelona copying the campaign’s publicity with his celebration.
On 33 minutes he scored again, this time with a whipped shot from a defensive rebound that flew past Rico. It was his 23rd league game in 21 matches.
It was raining hard now and the supporters behind the Barcelona goal had their shirts off as they danced in celebration.
It was raining goals too and there was no shelter for Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli who only a month ago was the favourite to take over as Barcelona manager following the announcement by Luis Enrique that he will not be continuing next season.
That was before Sevilla collapsed without a win in six, crashing out of Europe in the process. And before Barcelona’s season was so revived that Luis Enrique’s No 2 became the joint favourite with Ernesto Valverde to take the job.
Sevilla came back out for more punishment and they did so without Nasri who Sampaoli hooked at half-time. The Manchester city loanee was once the magic in Sevilla’s midfield now he’s just the disappearing trick.
He had been missing in action again and Pablo Sarabia was on in his place. He smashed a shot straight at Ter Stegen as the visitors did their best salvage some pride.
Suarez was taken off on 65 minutes. Barcelona will need him for the double-header against Juventus and for the Clasico at the Bernabeu at the end of the month and this game was surely over.
Vitolo was sent off on 90 minutes for his second bookable offence – his reward: reaching the safety of the dressing room before his team-mates. They followed on the final whistle. They had been well-beaten.