Neymar hits four in thriller

Neymar scored four as Barcelona triumphed 5-2 over Rayo Vallecano in an epic encounter at Camp Nou on Saturday.

Dani Alves was a substitute in the 2-1 defeat to Sevilla a fortnight ago, but Andres Iniesta’s continued absence and Javier Mascherano’s perceived inability to play with Sergio Busquets meant the Brazilian was reinstated at right-back, with Sergi Roberto in midfield.

Elsewhere, Sandro Ramirez pipped Munir El Haddadi to the vacant striking position left behind by Lionel Messi.

As expected, Rayo were fearless in their approach and made it clear that they were not at Camp Nou to make up the numbers but also attack the hosts at any given opportunities, and they were rewarded for such courage when former Cardiff City striker Javi Guerra cushioned Bebe’s fizzed delivery past Claudio Bravo.

Barca, meanwhile, fluffed two great chances through Ivan Rakitic and Sandro Ramirez early doors, leaving it up to Neymar to find the equaliser from the penalty spot after he was clearly upended from behind by Diego Llorente. The Brazilian duly converted the spot-kick, sending Tono the wrong way.

He then fired the Catalans ahead, again from 12 yards out, after he brilliantly took on Nacho Garcia, only for the right-back to cap off a nightmare first half with a lazy leg to trip up the forward, although he should have been given a third, Nacho again the guilty party with a blatant lunge.

The restart proved just as enthralling as its predecessor as Rayo somehow failed to find an equaliser, Claudio Bravo making three vital saves inside the first five minutes and Patrick Ebert fluffing his lines from a matter of yards out after he pounced on a defensive misjudgment.

Nonetheless, Neymar appeared to have made no doubt about the result with his third and fourth of the evening, separated by one minute and 26 seconds, the Brazilian smashing home a rebound from Suarez’s saved shot, before sweeping home a tap-in, with his strike partner the architect.

Neymar and La Blaugrana’s evening then reached a nadir thanks to his assist for Suarez, who superbly guided home a cross at the back post, despite Jozabed firing home a late consolation at the other end.

Barca have now gone eight matches without a clean sheet, while Rayo boss Paco Jemez is bound to face questions over whether his side were right to go all-out in their approach.

Barcelona 5-2 Rayo Vallecano

Neymar pen 22, pen 32, 69, 70, Suarez 77 (B) Guerra 15, Jozabed 86 (RV)

Barcelona: Bravo; Alves (Douglas 78), Pique, Mathieu, Alba; Busquets (Gumbau 76), Rakitic, Sergi; Suarez, Sandro (Munir 56), Neymar

Rayo Vallecano: Tono; Nacho (Dorado 46), Ze Castro, Llorente, Rat; Jozabed, Trashorras; Lass, Bebe (Embarba 71), Ebert; Guerra

Referee: Perez Montero

La Liga - Club News