Barcelona, April 24 (IANS) Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez scored four goals for the second time this week as FC Barcelona routed Sporting Gijon 6-0 at the Camp Nou stadium.
With third-placed Real Madrid and second-positioned Atletico Madrid both winning earlier on Saturday, Barcelona were fully aware that anything short of a victory would leave them in the third place and with little hope of recovering the top spot with just three matches left, reports Efe.
Even so, the hosts’ intensity was somewhat lacking early on and that almost proved costly, particularly late in the first half when a counter-attack by Sporting nearly led to a penalty being called on defender Gerard Pique for a handball.
But it was not given as Barcelona, which had opened the scoring in the 12th minute on a header into the back of the net by super-striker Lionel Messi, dodged a bullet that could have tied the game at 1-1.
The second half was dominated by Suarez, who scored on a cross by Andres Iniesta in the 63rd minute and then added three more goals, two of them on penalties, over a 25-minute span.
Neymar also scored on a penalty after a questionable foul was called in the 85th minute on Bosnian defender Ognjen Vranjes, who was also sent off for two bookings.
Suarez, who scored four times in Barcelona’s 8-0 drubbing of Deportivo La Coruna on Wednesday, is now the top scorer in La Liga with 34 goals, three ahead of Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
With the win, Barcelona is once again tied on points with Atletico Madrid at 82. The Catalans, however, hold the tie-breaker against Atletico – who edged Malaga 1-0 on Saturday – based on their head-to-head record.
Real Madrid, which rallied to defeat Rayo Vallecano 3-2 on Saturday, is in the third place with 81 points.