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Deportivo La Coruña
16 February 2014
• Camp Nou, Barcelona
Referee: Juan Martínez Munuera
• Attendance: 74517
Adriano Correia 2'
L. Messi 36', 68'
A. Sánchez 53'
That's all that we have time for from Camp Nou, as Barcelona efficiently dispatched of Rayo Vallecano in a 6-0 thrashing, which means that Tata Martino's side are in pole position for the league title. I've been Simon Harrison, and I hope to see you again next time.
Goals from Adriano, Messi, Alexis, Pedro and Neymar wrap up an important three points for Blaugrana, who replace Atletico at the top of the pile, courtesy of goal difference. Rayo were plucky, and forced Valdes into two good saves, but were ultimately outclassed.
FULL TIME! Barcelona return to the top of La Liga, after a 6-0 thrashing of Rayo, thanks to a vintage performance from Martino's men. The hosts were simply too good, with Lionel Messi surpassing Di Stefano's goalscoring record, before Neymar capped the result with a stunning goal.
90' + 1'
VIERA! The former Valencia man tries to curl an effort into the bottom right hand corner, it has Valdes worried, but the ball skids off the turf and behind for a goal-kick.
What a strike from the Brazil international, it can't be said enough! He rides a challenge, before smashing an effort over Ruben, which dips into the top corner! Barcelona have demolished this Rayo side tonight, but what a way to end it!
GOOOOOOOOOOAL! WHAT A STRIKE FROM NEYMAR! The substitute rockets a strike into the back of the net from 25 yards, leaving Ruben as a spectator! What a goal to wrap things up at Camp Nou!
ADRIANO! The Brazilian goalscorer drives into the penalty area, before attempted an audacious shot from an awkward angle, which Ruben is happy to watch over his crossbar. There were better options available there, that was a poor decision from the left-back.
Despite them being five goals behind, Rayo are refusing to give up in this game. Rochina has had several half chances in the last ten minutes, and there could still be a consolation goal in this match for the underdogs. They've certainly not embarrassed themselves, Barca have been simply imperious.
Mojica breaks up the left hand side once again, before accidentally trying a Rabona cross. He wins his team a corner, but once again, nothing comes of it for the visitors. Rochina fires at goal from 25 yards, and Valdes makes a smart save to deny the former Blackburn midfielder at his near post.
Neymar isn't looking up to match fitness or sharpness, as the Brazilian forward hasn't featured for Blaugrana for a month. His first touch is poor, though he's made a couple of nice passes, and Barca will be treating this second half as a chance to get their young star back into shape.
Neymar tries to release Tello with a clever pass, but Tito cuts it out smartly. Barca continue to stretch this Rayo defence, before picking it apart through the fantastic passing range of Fabregas and Iniesta. Ten minutes remain, and the hosts want more goals.
Longo robs Fabregas of the ball in the centre of midfield, but the Barca man is back in possession moments later. He looks to release Alexis with a clever through ball, but the Chilean goes down, suggesting that he was shoved to the ground by his marker. The referee ignores his claims.
FABREGAS! Ze Castro is on hand to turn the midfielder's strike around the post with his outstretched foot, saving his side's blushes! Cesc deserves a goal for his efforts tonight, but that's a great block by the Portuguese defender. Barca continue to scythe this Rayo team apart with ease.
ROCHINA! Very close for the former Barcelona midfielder! He's fed possession on the edge of the area by Falque, before two step-overs give him the yard of space necessary for a shot at goal. He has Valdes stumbling across his line, but his long-range effort goes wide of the post.
Larrivey has half a chance! Jonathan Viera does excellently to turn into space, before placing a lofted through ball into the path of Rayo's Argentine striker. Valdes is quick off his line to smother the attempted pass, he's remained completely alert throughout, despite Barca dominance.
There are still 20 minutes left to play, and this Barca team don't look as though they want to show any mercy. The La Liga title race looks to be very close this season, and goal difference could realistically come into play at the business end of the campaign. Jemez's men are powerless to resist.
Assist Alexis Sánchez
Goal Lionel Messi
GOOOOOOAL! LIONEL MESSI SENDS BARCELONA INTO A FIVE GOAL LEAD! He slides the ball home with ease, with Ruben totally beaten, after a lovely passing move! Fabregas feeds Alexis, who squares the ball back to the edge of the box for Messi, and the Argentine strokes it home!
ALVES! The right-back bombs forward from defence, before arrowing a low strike narrowly wide of the far post. He is fed in behind Mojica by Neymar, but can't find the lethal touch to steer the ball into the far corner.
Great ball from Alves, who sprays a diagonal across the field, finding Neymar on the left hand side. The substitute's first touch is poor, allowing for Tito to track back and dispossess the Brazil international, earning the former Santos man a telling off by Alves. That was some pass.
MESSI! The Argentine strides into the penalty area, ignoring the run of Neymar to have a go at goal himself. He flashes the ball wide of the near post, with Ruben well positioned - it would have perhaps been the better idea to feed the substitute.
Damage limitation time for Rayo, but the visiting side are continuing to try and stroke the ball around whenever they can. This is almost a training exercise for Barca, with the hosts' midfield being too silky for their adversaries to handle.
ALVES! Barcelona break with pace, with Messi releasing Alexis on the right hand side, but the ball is slightly too heavy for the Chilean. The former Udinese winger clips a cross into the penalty area from the byeline, which is half-cleared by Larrivey, falling to the Brazilian. From 30 yards, he tries his luck with his first touch, but drills the ball straight down Ruben's throat.
Since Rayo have returned to the top flight, the Madrid-based side have only scored once against tonight's opposition. They look set to continue their barren run today, with Larrivey only having small glimpses of goal and being given barely any support.
Rayo have just over half an hour left to play, but this isn't a contest anymore, it hasn't been for a long time! Barcelona will be returning to the top of La Liga tonight, and are doing it in some style. Fabregas and Iniesta have been instrumental in the centre of midfield, leaving Jemez's side powerless.
Assist Cesc Fàbregas
GOOOOOAL! PEDRO MAKES IT FOUR! Barcelona are romping to victory! Fabregas squares generously to his teammate, who stabs home from eight yards out, and they don't get easier than that. Barca cut Rayo apart, with Fabregas and Iniesta exchanging a one-two that leaves the visiting defence standing in awe.
GREAT SAVE! Larrivey tries to place a delicate effort inside the far post, but Valdes slaps the effort behind for a corner! That's an excellent stop from the Spain international, that curling shot from the Argentine striker was on its way into the back of the net!
Assist Lionel Messi
Goal Alexis Sánchez
GOOOOOAL! ALEXIS MAKES IT THREE FOR BARCA! Messi with the assist, and Barcelona are three goals to the good! The Chilean international slides the ball beyond Ruben, after being found in plenty of space by his Argentine teammate, leaving the Rayo goalkeeper with no chance!
Rayo are sticking to their principals, holding onto the ball and trying to shift possession around the back four. Ruben is given the ball readily, with the centre-backs splitting to allow the full-backs to press forward. However, a lack of urgency is allowing for Barca to hold their shape easily.
Alexis is released down the right flank, before the Chile international twists and turns to escape the challenge of Mojica, who brings him down. The hosts deliver, with Messi whipping the cross into the six yard area, but Ruben claims well.
Barcelona start the second half in the same way as they conducted the first, in control. Martino's men aren't to be rushed, but if a gap appears, they'll exploit it with electric pace. Both sides want to play football and aren't afraid to return the ball to their goalkeeper, but Rayo need to come up with a goal soon.
We're back underway for the second half's action, with Barcelona looking likely to return to the summit of La Liga, as Martino's men head into the second period of 45 minutes with a two goal lead. Rayo have been brave in possession, but Blaugrana are looking silky smooth.
Falque had a big chance to level the scoreline when the match stood at 1-0, but good goalkeeping from Valdes robbed the visiting underdogs of the chance to make this fixture competitive. Blaugrana have been wholly dominant, with Iniesta and Messi in particular looking in fine form.
HALF TIME! An efficient performance from Barca in the first 45 minutes, with Valdes only being called into action on two occasions. Goals from Adriano and Messi take the hosts into the dressing room with a comfortable advantage, and Messi equals Di Stefano's La Liga goalscoring record in the process.
A couple of minutes until the break, and Barca continue to look in total control. Ze Castro is the only Rayo defender who has offered anything in the way of resistance, with Messi looking to be in fantastic shape. He's bypassing players with ease, showcasing some skilful, mazy runs which the home crowd adore so much.
Tito replaces Ardilla at right-back for the away side, with Jemez presumably looking to solidify his back four. The defender jogs off looking uninjured and rather unhappy, but it hasn't been his day. Mojica has jostled and competed with Alexis, but Ardilla offered no resistance on the right.
Messi goes down in the penalty area, but the referee doesn't award the Argentina international a spot-kick. He wriggles his way past two challenges, after receiving a clever ball from Iniesta, but possession escapes him as he looks to carve out some space to take a shot.
Five minutes until the break, and Jemez will be desperate for his side to make it into the dressing room without conceding again. Larrivey has been isolated and ineffectual, with Rayo's offensive contributions to this game being less than fleeting.
Messi is now the joint-fourth-highest scorer in La Liga, with that chip being a delightful way to push himself towards the records of Di Stefano. Rayo haven't been able to threaten too often, showing how big an opportunity that chance was for Falque when the score stood at 1-0.
Assist Cesc Fàbregas
Goal Lionel Messi
GOOOOOOOOAL! MESSI SCORES WITH A BEAUTIFUL CHIP! Fabregas slides his teammate through on goal, after stealing possession in midfield, before Messi clips the ball over Ruben with consummate ease! Barca are in total control now!
Rayo aren't able to piece together any meaningful attacks, and Barcelona keep pressing forward. Messi turns excellently, before scooping a pass into the path of Fabregas on the left hand side, but the former Arsenal midfielder's cross is blocked by Ze Castro.
Messi bypasses Trashorras and Larrivey with a clever change of pace, but the frontman can't convert from a tight angle, striking the ball straight at the awaiting frame of Ruben. Barca are purring into gear, and are beautiful to watch this evening.
MESSI! The Argentine is denied by a strong palm from Ruben, as the Vallecano goalkeeper palms the strike over the bar for a corner! Good save! Adriano provided the pass, and Rayo have their keeper to thank. Iniesta looks to be on a different level to everyone else on the field at the moment too!
Great work from Iniesta! The Spain international does excellently to sidestep his way in between two defenders, before sliding Pedro through on goal. The winger attempts to find Messi with a square ball from inside the box, but Ze Castro clears the cross from danger! Saul and Mojica are struggling to deal with Barcelona's wide men, as Alexis and Pedro give the Blaugrana plenty of width, but are able to cut in incisively.
FALQUE! What a chance for Rayo! Bueno is denied by Valdes, who palms the ball away from the former Real Madrid man, but only as far as Falque! The Spaniard tries to finish, sliding the ball through the legs of the recovering Barca keeper, but Valdes does just enough to deflect the shot away from goal! Close for the away side!
ROCHINA! The January signing tries his luck from the edge of the area, but his strike is deflected behind for a corner. The away side aren't afraid to hold onto the ball, sometimes worryingly so, and the former Barcelona youngster will be keen to have an impact against his old club.
The opening stages of this game have been dominated by Barca, with Valdes being a spectator, but for one routine save. The hosts are transitioning quickly from defence to attack, with Iniesta and Fabregas running the show in the centre of the park.
ALEXIS! Iniesta unlocks the Rayo defence with a sumptuous pass, allowing for the Chilean to bear down on the near post, with Ruben slowly advancing from his line. Alexis should probably shoot, but unselfishly tries to deliver a teasing pass to Messi at the far post, resulting in the ball zipping out for a goal kick. Martino shows his frustration!
MESSI! ALVES! The Argentine tries his luck from 25 yards, firing a free-kick effort into the wall. Dani Alves is on hand to pick up the pieces, but drills a strike over the bar from the rebound. The hosts are on the hunt for the second goal, which will kill this game off.
PEDRO! Ruben makes an error, clearing into touch under no pressure, showcasing the nerves of playing in such a huge footballing arena. Barca start their attack, working the ball out wide to Pedro, who strikes the inside of the near post with a low drive! It rebounds off the woodwork, before bouncing across the six yard box to safety.
Barca are looking sharp and able to cut apart this Rayo side at will. Fabregas has picked several outstanding passes, and Messi looks more than ready to continue his goalscoring run. It seems to be only a matter of time before the hosts find the net again.
POST! Lionel Messi strikes the top of the post, after a wonderful piece of skill! He's found by a lofted pass from Fabregas, before pivoting smartly, sidestepping Ze Castro and firing his eventual effort off the woodwork! Close for the Argentine star!
Great challenge by Puyol! The Spanish veteran slides in excellently prevent a cross, after Rayo broke with pace and direction. There were two white shirts present in the Barca penalty area, so that was an important intervention from the captain.
Rayo's bold passing style isn't doing them any favours in the opening exchanges, with their players determined to hold onto the ball almost suicidally. The home crowd will presumably have some time for their adversaries tonight, but the away side look as though they have a few mistakes in them.
INIESTA! Audacious attempt from Iniesta, who spots Ruben off his line, and attempts to strike a half volley towards the open goal from the half-way line! It bounces five yards wide of the target. Camp Nou applauds the idea.
PEDRO! What an excellent ball by Fabregas, who flicks on a lofted Adriano pass, finding Pedro at the near post. The Spain international takes a touch, before firing a half volley narrowly wide of the woodwork, but the linesman's flag is raised anyhow.
Barcelona have dominated the early stages, with Rayo looking low on ideas with regard to combating Barca's passing style. The hosts are moving the ball slickly, with their offensive players combining well. Ruben is certainly going to have a lot of questions asked about him tonight.
Ze Castro almost plays Rayo into trouble! Inside of clearing his lines, the Portuguese is nearly robbed of possession inside his own penalty area, forcing Ruben to run the ball out of play for a Barcelona corner. Fortunately for the visitors, the set piece comes to nothing.
Well, that certainly wasn't the start that Jemez would have liked to see. Barca started in a direct manner, allowing Adriano to advance down the left, but the pressure wasn't strong enough on the Brazilian left-back! Rayo have their own first attack, but Falque shoots straight at Valdes.
GOOOOOOOOAL! ADRIANO SCORES FROM THE EDGE OF THE BOX TO SCORE WITHIN TWO MINUTES! The Brazilian cuts in from the left, before releasing a wonderful low drive into the bottom right corner, leaving Ruben with no chance! Barca lead!
We are underway in the first half at Camp Nou! Rayo need points to try and climb towards safety, whilst Blaugrana will be determined to overcome their opponents in order to return to the summit of La Liga!
Ten minutes until kick-off, and this match promises plenty of goals, as the away side have conceded 52 goals so far this season. Barcelona are second-highest scorers in La Liga with 63 goals scored, leaving plenty of people at the conclusion that tonight will be an easy victory for the Catalan outfit. Be sure to stay with us for all of the action!
Away from home during the current season, Rayo have been thrashed 5-0 by both Atletico and Malaga, suffering a heavy 4-1 defeat to Sevilla to boot. In recent games, Jemez's men have failed to take any points from Elche and Levante, but started 2014 well with a win against Getafe. Patchy form equals unpredicitability for tonight's visitors, and tests don't get much sterner than this one.
Barcelona, of course, suffered a shock home defeat against Valencia recently, a result which will give Rayo some hope. With both teams geared towards possession football, this should be an interesting match-up, but the expensive and talented offensive options for Blaugrana should be able to put the visitors to the sword. Lionel Messi, leading the line, makes his 300th appearance for Barca.
Rayo substitutes: Cobueno, Lass, Adrian, Castillo, Longo, Galeano, Embarba.
Rayo starting line-up: Ruben; Saul, Arbilla, Ze Castro, Mojica; Raul Baena, Trashorras; Falque, Bueno, Rochina; Larrivey.
Barcelona substitutes: Pinto, Neymar, Mascherano, Song, Alba, Afellay, Tello.
Barcelona starting line-up: Valdes; Alves, Puyol, Pique, Adriano; Fabregas, Iniesta, Busquets; Alexis, Messi, Pedro.
TEAM NEWS: Nacho Martinez is sidelined through suspension for the visitors, with Colombian defender Mojica replacing the 24-year-old. Otherwise, Jemez opts for an unchanged side from the one which beat Malaga 4-1 in a surprisingly comprehensive victory for the relegation strugglers. Loanees Falque and Rochina start, with Lass on the substitutes bench.
TEAM NEWS: Lionel Messi starts for the home side, with Pedro and Alexis lining up either side of the Argentine frontman, who is certainly returning to match speed very quickly. Pique is present at the centre of defence, despite picking up a knock last time out, with Puyol partnering the Spain international. Fabregas, Iniesta and Busquets make up the midfield three. Xavi, Jordi Alba and Mascherano are rested, while Neymar moves onto the bench.
I'm Simon Harrison, and I will be keeping you up to date with all of the action from Camp Nou, as Tata Martino's side look to secure three points which will see them replace Atletico Madrid at the top of the Spanish top flight. Despite Rayo's league position, the home side are lining up with a strong starting eleven, with Blaugrana seemingly decided on not slipping up against the Vallecanos.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of tonight's La Liga clash between Barcelona and Rayo Vallecano, with the hosts aiming to return back to the summit of the league with a victory on home soil. Tonight's visitors take up 19th place in the division, but have managed a mini-resurgence of late, picking up a draw against Levante and a 4-1 victory against Malaga last time out. Paco Jemez's side aren't to be written off!
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