LNTUP

FC Barcelona 4-1 Villarreal CF

Photo: Getty Images
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FC Barcelona 4 ( Neymar 21, Suarez 69, Messi 44, 82 ) – Villarreal CF 1 ( Bakambu 32 )

FC Barcelona kept the heat on Real Madrid – who later defeated Granada by 4-0 – at the top of La Liga as their MSN frontline passed 100 goals for the season in a critical 4-1 win over Villarreal.

The match was hyped as a match between the best attacking trio and the second best defence. Eibar came into the game having conceded just 10 goals in 16 away matches – fewer than any other side in the La Liga this season.

Messi and Neymar displayed some serious set of skills to run riots in Eibar’s defence.

Villarreal’s dream of a top 4 finish was crushed by FC Barcelona yesterday as they will now focus on cementing the 5th place, so that they can play Europa League.

Lucas Digne was handed a rare start as left-back for Barça. Andres Iniesta was fit and Luis Enrique handed him a start too.

Barça held early possession and created some good chances, with Eibar also looking threatening on counters.

Barcelona were forced to look for more risky passes, due to Villarreal keeping things very compact and congested in the centre of the field.

Sergi Roberto was handed a yellow card in the 16th minute for cynically hauling his man down.

Alvaro was shown a yellow card too – for a handball on the edge of his own penalty area, after a neat flick up from Messi caught the defender on his outstretched arm.

After 20 minutes of frustrating offensive trips, the Spanish Giants were finally able to break Villarreal’s defensive resilience. Messi tried to shoot from the left-hand side of the penalty area, but his effort was deflected fortunately into the path of the Neymar. NJR controlled the ball and slotted a neat finish beyond Andres and into the back of the net to make it 1-0 for FC BARCELONA.

Luis Enrique’s men had their lead, which vitally meant that Villarreal had no option but to press on if they wanted to pick up a result. Villarreal found the equaliser in the 32nd minute through Bakambu. Bakambu was played through into the clear on the counter, and powerfully surged into the penalty area. He held off Pique before thumping a good finish beyond the onrushing Ter Stegen.

In the 40th minute Barcelona got two back to back chances to score and break Villarreal’s defensive resilience. First Iniesta swinged in a brilliant cross from the left-hand side for the Blaugrana, but Musacchio rose highest at the back post to make a vital headed clearance. In the next passage of play, Messi scampered down the right and clipped a wonderful delivery into Pique, but he could only stretch to head wide of the target from a few yards out.

Villarreal had a great chance to score and take the lead in the very next minute when Soldado was found in the penalty area by a brilliant cross from Soriano, but a header from the Spaniard was guided wide of the target. He had to at least test Ter Stegen. Barcelona threatened Villarreal with a counter attack and Neymar had a real chance to score when Suarez fed Neymar into the box, but the Brazilian dragged a shot shy of the far upright on the counter and missed a golden opportunity to give Barça a 2-1 lead at the half time.

But the hosts did take a lead into the interval with a goal typical of Messi, the Argentine dribbled past a string of players, before slotting a finish beyond an unsighted Andres. Barça headed back to the dressing room with a 2-1 lead.

In the 48th minute Neymar bursted to the left byline and tried to wriggle a ball square across the face of the goal, but an outstretched leg from Andres denied the Brazilian the opportunity to supply a teammate.

Digne tested the Villarreal goalkeeper from a very tight angle in the 52nd minute after missing a chance to score in the 50th minute when he pounced on a loose ball – a rare defensive error from Villarreal – but he lost his footing as he attempted to get into the box.

Iniesta picked up a rare yellow card in the 64th minute for a cynical sliding challenge that prevented Soriano from getting into a shooting position on the edge of Barca’s box.

Minutes after this Suarez striked to hand Barca a 2 goal lead over Villarreal and make the scoreline 3-1. Trigueros fed play out to the left-hand side, but Soriano was caught offside. Barcelona took the free kick quickly and raced upfield, with Suarez fed into the penalty area where he chopped past Alvaro and slotted home a neat finish to end Villarreal’s dream of finishing in the top 4

Barcelona were handed a cheeky penalty in the 82nd minute for a handball in the penalty box and a brilliant finish from Messi gave Barca a 3 goal cushion.