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Deportivo La Coruña
March 3, 2016
• Estadio del Rayo Vallecano (de Vallecas Teresa Rivero), Madrid
Referee: Iñaki Bikandi Garrido
• Attendance: 13775
Manucho Gonçalves 57'
I. Rakitić 22'
L. Messi 23', 53', 72'
A. Turan 86'
Barcelona are now unbeaten in 35 games, a new Spanish record, thanks to tonight's comfortable victory, and just as importantly it sends them eight points clear of nearest challengers Atletico Madrid at the top of the table. It's difficult to see any way that the reigning champions can't pick up the title once again, as time and time again they are swatting away their opponents with considerable ease. Rayo made it particularly easy for them with poor defending and two rash challenges, but even if they had been able to hold on to all 11 players they still would have failed to come away with anything against Luis Enrique's hard-working side, who were excellent from start to finish.
FULL-TIME: RAYO VALLECANO 1-5 BARCELONA
Barcelona try to push forward on one last attack just as the game enters the 91st minute, but the referee decides not to add on an injury time and instead brings an end to another comprehensive victory for the visitors, who are running riot at the top of the table.
Embarba breaks forward on a determined counter-attack and heads towards the edge of the Barcelona penalty area before unleashing a rocket of a shot from 20 yards out, but it's sent too near to Bravo and the Chilean goalkeeper is easily able to save the effort as a result.
Yellow Card Neymar da Silva Santos Junior
Neymar clumsily sticks out a foot and catches Amaya on the ankle, and he receives a late yellow card as a result.
Assist Jérémy Mathieu
That was an excellent cross by Mathieu, who has looked impressive down the left flank, where he has defended resolutely whilst also showing plenty of promise when pushing forward.
Goal Arda Turan
GOAL! There it is, and it's Turan with his first Barcelona goal! Mathieu breaks down the left flank and finds himself in space near the byline, allowing him to curl a lovely cross over to the far post. It finds the Turkish midfielder completely unmarked, and he's easily able to nod the ball into the back of the net to make it 5-1 to Barcelona.
Barcelona are bossing possession inside the Rayo half of the pitch, and the hosts are finding it incredibly difficult to get anywhere near the ball. Despite being three goals ahead, the visitors are still desperately pushing forward in search of further goals, and it looks as if they may be able to get one more before the game is done if they continue playing this way.
What a chance for Suarez! The Uruguayan muscles his way through three Rayo defenders and penetrates the hosts' penalty area before firing a low strike over towards the bottom right-hand corner of the net, but it misses the far post by the narrowest of margins before also skidding just past the outstretched foot of Neymar, who was lurking with intent.
Alberto Mateus Contreiras Gonçalves
Javier Guerra Rodríguez
Manucho receives a rousing round of applause from the Rayo fans as he's replaced by Guerra for the final 10 minutes.
Yellow Card Arda Turan
Turan flies into Tito and brings the left-back crashing to the ground with a reckless sliding challenge, resulting in him receiving a yellow card. The referee initially gets confused, however, and wrongly brandishes a red before quickly realising his error, much to the delight of the Rayo fans who have had little to smile about tonight.
Sergio Busquets i Burgos
Vermaelen comes on to take the place of Busquets, meanign that Mascherano will push up into midfield for the final portion of the game.
With a three-goal lead and two extra players on the pitch, Barcelona are bossing possession inside the Rayo half of the pitch. They are easily working the ball around under very little pressure, and it looks as if it's going to be an easy final 14 minutes for the visitors.
Sergi Roberto Carnicer
Aleix Vidal Parreu
Roberto makes way for Vidal for the final quarter of an hour.
Goal Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini
GOAL! Barcelona have re-established their three-goal lead! Busquets sends an excellent pass through the disjointed Rayo defence and into the path of Messi, who controls the ball well and penetrates the hosts' box before slotting the ball past Carlos and into the bottom right-hand corner of the net. It's just too easy for the visitors at the moment.
Assist Sergio Busquets i Burgos
With two less players on the pitch, Rayo are really struggling at the back, where they are constantly outnumbered by the Barcelona front line. As a result, the visitors' midfielders are finding it easy to pick out teammates with quick passes forward, and Busquets' wonderful ball did just that.
Tiago Manuel Dias Correia
Antonio Amaya Carazo
Rayo have made their second substitution, with Bebe making way for Amaya in a defensive change by Paco Jemez.
Missed Penalty Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz
Barcelona's disappointing penalty scoring record continues, and Suarez really should have done better with his strike. It always looked as if he was going to shoot to the left, and he made life easy for Carlos with an unconvincing strike.
Penalty save Juan Carlos Martín Corral
SAVE! After plenty of arguing between the referee and the Rayo players, Suarez finally steps up and unleashes a thumping strike, but it's sent far too near to Carlos, who is able to get down well and push the shot away with a great diving stop.
Red Card Manuel Rolando Iturra Urrutia
PENALTY! Neymar steps up and unleashes a wonderful strike that flies over the Rayo wall before ricocheting off the crossbar. The ball then bounces down into the feet of Busquets, who only has Carlos to beat, but just as he's about to shoot he's clattered into by a cynical sliding challenge by Iturra, who is immediately shown a red card as a result.
Rakitic receives a chorus of boos from the Rayo fans as he makes his way off the pitch to be replaced by Turan.
Almost another costly mistake by Carlos! Barcelona work the ball around quickly on the edge of the Rayo penalty area before Suarez fires a low cross towards goal. It looks to be one that the goalkeeper should easily save, but his fumbles it out of his hands and into the path of Neymar. The Brazilian is unable to make contact with the ball before it's desperately poked away by Iturra, but Rakitic is then fouled just outside of the box, resulting in a free-kick for the visitors in a very dangerous position.
What a miss by Messi! Mascherano sends a great pass through the Rayo defence and into the path of Mathieu, who is easily able to beat Embarba down the left wing. The Frenchman then cuts the ball back to the Argentine, who is in space just outside of the penalty area, but his first-time strike is poorly hit and flies well over the hosts' goal.
Tito flies forward once again as Rayo desperately push plenty of bodies into the Barcelona half of the pitch, and he finds himself in a pocket of space 30 yards out and decides to shoot. His audacious effort is overhit, however, and it fails to trouble Bravo before flying comfortably over the top of the crossbar.
That goal seems to have filled Rayo with plenty of confidence, and they immediately win back possession from the restart. Tito charges down the left flank before trying to tee up Manucho with an deep cross over to the far post, but it's slightly overhit and misses the striker before bouncing out of play for a goal-kick.
Assist Tiago Manuel Dias Correia
Bebe showed great strength to beat Roberto in the air at the far post, but the makeshift Barcelona right-back was far too easily beaten by the Portuguese, who always looked as if he was going to meet the ball first.
Goal Alberto Mateus Contreiras Gonçalves
GOAL! Rayo have pulled one back! Embarba holds up the ball well on the right wing before swinging a beautiful cross over to the far post, where it finds Bebe. The Portuguese easily beats Roberto in the air before nodding the ball down into the path of Manucho, who takes advantage of poor defending by Pique and Mascherano to head in the hosts' first goal from just a few yards out. Game on?
Francisco Medina Luna
Jonatan Montiel Caballero
Rayo have made their first change of the game, and in true Paco Jemez fashion it's an attacking one, with Piti making way for young talent Caballero.
And now Neymar almost scores! The Brazilian skips past Embarba far too easily and breaks into the left-hand side of the Rayo penalty area before trying to slot a shot past Carlos, but he ends up holding on to the ball for slightly too long before firing his strike into the side-netting from close range. He really should have done better with that golden opportunity!
Goal Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini
GOAL! Messi makes it 3-0! Roberto charges into the right-hand side of the Rayo penalty area before sending a dangerous cross into the middle of the box. Iturra does well to cut out the danger but can only poke the ball back to Suarez, who immediately blasts a thumping strike into the near post. The aforementioned Argentine is there to score with the follow-up, however, as he's easily able to tap his first-time shot past Carlos and into the back of the net to extend Barcelona's lead.
Suarez goes close! Messi cuts inside from the right wing and weaves through a sea of white shirts before teeing up the aforementioned Uruguayan with a lovely poked through-ball. The striker immediately unleashes a curling strike from close range but it ends up missing the far post by the narrowest of margins after beating the outstretched arm of Carlos.
Rayo are presented with another good chance on goal after taking Barcelona by surprise with a quick counter-attack, but once again it doesn't quite work due to a poor final ball in the final third of the pitch. A quick lofted pass forward is just about dealt with by Bravo, but the goalkeeper can only poke his attempted clearance into the path of Embarba. The attacking midfielder then tries to poke a through-ball into the path of Bebe, but the former Manchester United man mistimes his run into the box and the pass can only find Bravo at the near post.
Mathieu breaks down the left wing before firing a low cross towards Suarez in the middle of the Rayo penalty area, but it's easily dealt with by the hosts' defence before they break away on a quick counter-attack. Embarba flies through the middle of the pitch before teeing up Manucho with a well-weighted pass, but the striker's first touch is poor and sends the ball rolling into the hands of Bravo in the middle of the goal.
Neymar almost makes it 3-0! Suarez chips a gorgeous pass over the top of the Rayo defence and into the path of Neymar, who makes a great run into the left-hand side of the penalty area. The Brazilian then beats the outstretched arms of Carlos with his first-time shot, but it ends up swerving just wide of the far post.
And we're underway once again!
The two teams are making their way back out onto the pitch ahead of the start of the second half. Neither side have made any substitutions during the half-time break.
As soon as the referee put his whistle to his lips, Paco Jemez went straight over to the man in charge to give him an earful about Llorente's dismissal. The Rayo looks absolutely livid with the decision, and it's one that has left his side with a mountain to climb in the second half if they are to pull off what would surely be one of their best ever comebacks. It's been an incredibly difficult opening 45 minutes for the hosts, who have struggled to deal with the pace and skill of the Barcelona front line and have found little joy when pushing forward. Embarba has arguably been the most creative of their players but Bebe, Piti and, in particular, Manucho have all been largely anonymous, which has made life incredibly easy for the Blaugrana defenders.
HALF-TIME: RAYO VALLECANO 0-2 BARCELONA
Barcelona push forward on one last attacking move of the opening period, but Rayo now have every available player camped behind the ball in an attempt to keep the determined visitors at bay. The league leaders do well to earn themselves a corner, which is then swung into the heart of the penalty area, but the hosts are just about able to deal with the danger before the referee brings an end to what has been an action-packed first half.
The fourth official has indicated that there will be just one minute of added time.
There's a lengthy break in play as Rakitic receives medical attention after that coming together with Llorente. He really seems to be struggling and looks to be in a lot of pain, so he may have to be removed if he's unable to make a recovery in time for the start of the second half.
Red Card Diego Javier Llorente Ríos
RED CARD! Rayo are down to 10 men! Llorente tries to pick up a loose pass in the middle of the pitch and flies into Rakitic with his studs raised, sending the Croatian down to the ground whilst holding his leg in considerable pain. The centre-back seemed to make contact with the ball but the referee isn't happy with the follow-up through and immediately gives him his marching orders, much to the frustration of the young defender.
Fantastic opportunity for Quini! Embarba, who has had a quiet half an hour after starting so well, flies down the left wing on a brilliant run before swinging a wonderful cross into the heart of the penalty area. It flies over Pique, who isn't quick enough to deal with the danger, before finding the aforementioned right-back, but his headed effort fails to trouble Bravo and bounces comfortably wide of the Barcelona goal.
Almost another costly mistake by Rayo! Carlos darts out of his goal in an attempt to cut out a lofted pass forward, but he's unable to make contact with the ball before Quini meets it with his head. The left-back's clearance is terrible, however, and sends the ball straight into the feet of Suarez, and the striker immediately tries to tap a shot into the back of the net from just outside of the penalty area. However, the hosts' goalkeeper is just about able to dart across box and cut out the danger with a vital one-handed save.
Rayo are able to push forward on a rare foray into the Barcelona half of the pitch thanks to good hold up play by Manucho. However, they're quickly put under pressure by the visitors and are forced into playing the ball all the way back towards their own goal, which has been a recurring theme thus far. The hosts are trying their hardest to get back into the game but are finding little joy against their determined and well-organised opponents.
It's all Barcelona as they comfortably hold on to possession deep inside the Rayo half of the pitch. They move the ball around from one flank to the other as they try to find a way through the hosts' back line, but a promising attacking move is eventually brought to a disappointing end by Neymar, who sends a misplaced back-heeled pass away from Suarez and into the feet of Llorente just outside of the penalty area.
Neymar holds up the ball well on the halfway line as he battles with Llorente, but he's eventually dragged back by the centre-back and wins Barcelona a free-kick as a result. It's swiftly taken and sent through to the Brazilian, who darts towards goal with no defenders in front of him, but the referee quickly orders them to retake the set-piece after claiming that they initially did so in the wrong position.
Iniesta picks up the ball in plenty of space in the middle of the pitch, and he immediately threads a lovely pass through the centre of Llorente and Quini and into the path of Neymar on the left-hand side of the Rayo box. The Brazilian takes a quick touch before swinging a cross-cum-shot towards goal, but, off balance, it's poorly hit and Carlos is able to watch it sail comfortably wide of the near post.
Once again, Bebe tries to break down the right flank on a marauding run forward, but this time he's unable to beat Mathieu, who stands tall at keeps the former Manchester United man at bay before knocking the ball out for a Rayo throw-in midway inside the Barcelona half of the pitch.
Quini charges into Busquets and brings the midfielder crashing to the ground, resulting in a free-kick for Barcelona in a dangerous position. Messi flings it into the heart of the Rayo penalty area, where it bounces around before falling to Mathieu, but the defender's first time shot fails to beat Manucho, who throws his body in the way of the strike to send it flying out of play for a corner.
Rayo win themselves a corner on the right wing, but it fails to results in a chance on goal and Barcelona break away quickly down the right flank. Rakitic swings a deep cross over to Suarez, who meets it well at the back post and then knocks the ball back to Messi. The Argentine is unable to shoot so he instead tees up Iniesta, but the midfielder's rocket of a shot is deflected away from danger by Trashorras.
Assist Neymar da Silva Santos Junior
That was lovely play by Neymar, who did wonderfully well to beat Iturra before taking the Rayo defence completely by surprise with his first-time cut-back to Messi.
Goal Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini
GOAL! Things have gone from bad to worse for Rayo! Messi breaks forward on a great run through the middle of the pitch before threading an even better pass past Ittura and into the path of Neymar. The Brazilian penetrates the penalty area before unselfishly cutting the ball back to the aforementioned Argentine, who then beats Carlos with a wonderful side-footed shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the net. Barcelona are in full control!
Goal Ivan Rakitić
GOAL! What a terrible mistake by Carlos! Barcelona win themselves a corner on the left wing, but it fails to trouble the Rayo defence and the hosts are able to initially deal with the danger comfortably enough. The visitors come back through Roberto, however, and the youngster swings a looping cross towards the back post. It looks to be a routine take for the goalkeeper but he ends up spilling the ball into the path of Rakitic, who, with an open goal in front of him, is easily able to tap the ball into the back of the net to give his side the lead.
Almost a great counter-attack by Rayo! Barcelona lose the ball midway inside the hosts' half of the pitch, and with so many players committed forward the visitors leave themselves open at the back. Bebe takes advantage of that by skipping past Mathieu before flying down the right wing, but his final touch is slightly overhit and, as a result, he's unable to stop the ball from rolling out for a throw-in.
Suarez and Llorente batte for the ball down the left flank, and the Uruguayan is all over the centre-back as he tries to get hold of the ball near the byline. He finally ends up out-muscling his opponent before heading into the Rayo box, but just as he does so the referee awards a free-kick to the hosts, much to the frustration of the Barcelona striker.
Rayo have found little joy inside the Barcelona half of the pitch thus far, but Embarba has arguably been the brightest of their players when pushing forward. Sloppy defending from the visitors allows him to cut inside from the left wing and head towards the penalty area before unleashing a 20-yard strike, but it's slightly underhit and fails to trouble Bravo.
Ouch! Barcelona patiently move the ball around midway inside the Rayo half of the pitch before a misplaced pass sends it towards Iturra. The Chilean midfielder dives towards it but ends up painfully clattering Busquets, resulting in a free-kick for the visitors. The set-piece is chipped into the penalty area but is easily dealt with by the hosts, who then try to break away on a quick counter-attack.
Almost another chance for Neymar after Suarez does well to skip past Tito on the right-hand side of the Rayo box before poking the ball towards the penalty spot, but just as the Brazilian is about to make contact with it Iturra dives in to deal with the danger with a thumping clearance.
A half-hearted Rayo attack breaks down, and Barcelona immediately hit them on the counter. Neymar charges down the left flank on an excellent run and comfortably beats Quini, who hasn't got the pace to keep up with the Brazilian. The forward then penetrates the penalty area before looking to shoot, but he holds on to the ball for far too long and, as a result, the aforementioned right-back is able to dart back and dispossess the former Santos man at the vital moment.
Messi scores, but it's offside! A loose ball bounces over to Rakitic, who is in a pocket of space 30 yards away from the Rayo goal. He immediately pokes a lovely pass through the hosts' defence and into the path of the Argentine, who spins quickly before beating Carlos with a skipped shot. However, as soon as it hits the back of the net the linesman's flag is raised, and the replays show that it was the correct decision.
Neymar and Iniesta link up well on the edge of the Rayo box before the latter tries to beat Llorente, but the centre-back stands tall and ends up poking the ball out for a throw-in on the left flank. It's taken quickly and sent back to the Barcelona number 8, who then spins before trying to pick out Suarez, but his pass misses the striker by the narrowest of margins before rolling into the hands of Carlos.
Chance for Embarba! Iturra picks up a loose ball near the halfway line and immediately threads a lovely pass into the path of the aforementioned attacking midfielder. He skips past Mascherano with ease before unleashing a thumping first-time shot from just outside of the Barcelona penalty area, but Bravo does well to parry it away with a strong diving save.
It's been a strong start to the game by the hosts, who, in typical fashion, have come flying out of the blocks as they try to push as far forward as possible. As a result, Barcelona have seen little of the ball, allowing Rayo to pass the ball around with purpose inside the visitors' half of the pitch.
And we're off! Rayo get us underway, attacking from left to right.
The two sides are making their way out onto the pitch, with just a few minutes to go until kick-off.
Meanwhile, Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has made three alterations to the side that featured in the aforementioned victory at home to Sevilla, with Javier Mascherano, Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta returning to the starting line-up to replace Aleix Vidal, Jordi Alba and Arda Turan, all of whom drop to the substitutes’ bench.
Paco Jemez has decided to make two changes to the Rayo side that drew 2-2 with Real Betis on Saturday, with Ze Castro and Miku making way for Jose Crespo and Manucho Goncalves, the latter of whom came off the substitutes’ bench to score both of his side’s goals last weekend.
Barcelona substitutes: Ter Stegen, Alba, Vidal, Vermaelen, Adriano, Turan, Munir.
Barcelona XI (4-3-3): Bravo; Roberto, Pique, Mascherano, Mathieu; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Neymar.
Rayo Vallecano substitutes: Yoel, Nacho, Amaya, Caballero, Baena, Ozbiliz, Guerra.
Rayo Vallecano XI (4-2-3-1): Carlos, Quini, Llorente, Crespo, Tito; Iturra, Trashorras; Embarba, Piti, Bebe; Manucho.
There’s just over 15 minutes left to go until kick-off, so let’s have a look at how the two teams will be lining up evening…
Rayo will be aware that, on paper, the likelihood of them winning tonight doesn’t look particularly good, to say the least. Only once in the last 14 years, in January 2002, have they managed to beat Barcelona in a competitive game, with the Catalan side going on to win every fixture since. To make matters worse, the current league leaders have scored a whopping 45 goals in the process, with their opponents managing a measly four, two of which came in the last meeting between the two teams. In that, Los Franjirrojos took the lead early on only to collapse over the course of a tough night, and, with their opponents desperate to break Real’s record and extend their impressive lead at the top of the table, this evening’s game is set to be just as difficult for the 16th-place side.
Tonight presents Barcelona with the chance to make history if they are able to avoid defeat against a team that they have found a lot of joy against in recent years. The reigning champions are storming away at the top of the table, and they are now unbeaten in their last 34 games thanks to Sunday’s 2-1 win at home to Sevilla. Only once before has a team avoided defeat in same amount of clashes, and that was achieved by their eternal rivals Real Madrid way back in 1989. With Los Blancos trailing the Blaugrana by nine points heading into this evening’s clash, the race for the title is arguably as good as over, and tonight’s visitors can inflict more pain and misery on Zinedine Zidane’s underperforming side with a sixth consecutive victory, their 16th in 17 games, which would extend the gap to what would surely be an unreachable amount.
Good evening and welcome to our live text commentary of today’s La Liga game between Rayo Vallecano and Barcelona at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas.
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