Full Time: Espanyol 0-3 Barcelona
Barcelona leapfrogged over Real Madrid to reclaim the pole position in the La Liga title race with a 3-0 win over Espanyol in the Catalonian derby at the Estadi Cornella El-Prat on Saturday night.
The home team clearly had the better chances to go ahead in the first period with the Blaugrana hardly threatening Diego Lopez’s goal. However, it was Barcelona who broke the deadlock in the 50th minute after Luis Suarez capitalized on a poor defensive error from Espanyol to put his team ahead.
And with less than 15 minutes left on the clock, Ivan Rakitic made it 2-0 with a smart finish after some excellent work by Lionel Messi, before Suarez pounced on another mistake at the back from Espanyol to make it three in the 87th minute.
The win meant Luis Enrique’s men went back at the top of the standings after having been pushed down by Madrid who had beaten Valencia 2-1 earlier in the day. Here is how the Barcelona players fared on the night:
Barcelona Player Ratings
Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 6/10
Was hardly tested by the Espanyol attackers. Not very comfortable dealing with high balls and wasn’t allowed the time on the ball to build play from the back.
Sergi Roberto – 6/10
Was always raring to get forward and added numbers in attack making it hard for the Espanyol backline to deal with. Headed wide from close in the first-half.
Gerard Pique – 7/10
Started a bit nervily with the home team threatening in the early stages, but grew into the game and was at hand to make several key challenges. His quality when on the ball was also important for Barcelona.
Samuel Umtiti – 8/10
The best defender on the pitch by some distance, the Frenchman continued to impress with another stellar display at the back. Always alert to situations and made blocks and interceptions in loads.
Jordi Alba – 6/10
His link-up play with Neymar was a bright spot in the early stages of the game, but looked to sit back and defend for most parts of the second period.
Sergio Busquets – 6/10
Calm and composed in the middle of the park after being subdued early in the match. Allowed Barcelona to regain control after being threatened.
Ivan Rakitic – 6/10
Another quiet display from the Croatian international, who struggled to get into the game and make an impact until he scored the second with a neat finish.
Andre Gomes – 6/10
Struggled to reach the heights he did against Osasuna earlier this week, but had a decent outing in the midfield. There were a few misplaced passes that did draw ire from some of his teammates, but largely okay.
Lionel Messi – 7/10
Was hardly given any room by the Espanyol defence for large phases of the game, but burst into life and went on a slaloming run before setting Rakitic up for the second goal.
Luis Suarez – 7.5/10
Ended his five-game goal drought when he pounced upon a poor back pass from an Espanyol defender to open the scoring. Added a second goal in the dying minutes.
Neymar – 7/10
One of the very few Barcelona players that posed constant danger to the Espanyol defence. However, his shooting wasn’t always accurate.
Javier Mascherano – NA
Came on for Gomes in the final ten minutes with the game already in the bag.