Barca in comfortable derby win

Barcelona routed Espanyol in the Catalan derby but the title race will go to the last weekend after other results left La Liga in the balance.

La Blaugrana could have been crowned champions if they won and both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid lost but although Barca made light work of Los Periquitos, winning 5-0 and Atletico surprisingly lost at Levante, Madrid’s 3-2 win over Valencia means the season isn’t over.

Atleti are effectively out of the title race, three points behind Barca but behind on the head-to-head record, having lost both games against the Catalans 2-1. Madrid are a point behind and play at Deportivo La Coruna next weekend, while Barca go to Granada.

Messi found the top corner from 20 yards with Pau Lopez unable to keep the ball out of his net despite getting fingertips to it at full stretch.

Lopez was beaten just after half time by Suarez as Barca made sure their title destiny remained in their own hands, and again on the hour, the Uruguay international adding the exclamation point.

Rafinha rubbed salt into the wound – and perhaps made Lopez wish he’d kept quiet earlier in the week – when he capitalised on a howler from the goalkeeper to get Barca’s fourth, and Neymar got a late fifth.

Injury kept Claudio Bravo out with Marc-Andre Ter Stegen while suspension in defence saw Espanyol move Oscar Duarte from the left to the centre.

A number of Espanyol players had made it clear they didn’t want Barca to win the title but any chance of an upset was quashed inside 10 minutes by Messi’s inch-perfect set-piece.

Ivan Rakitic had a goal ruled out for offside, probably incorrectly, and Messi and Neymar sent free kicks wide, while Felipe Caicedo kept Barca alert by getting a shot away under the attention of Gerard Pique, but it was right at Ter Stegen.

Espanyol’s challenges got more agricultural as the half went on, Messi, as usual, catching the brunt of them, but he wasn’t the only one – Espanyol had four players booked by half time, Messi cautioned for Barca.

Barca made a sloppy start to the second half but any nerves were settled when Dani Alves pounced on a slack pass, fed Messi and he in turn slipped in Suarez, who was clinical. Suarez’s ruthless side was on show again when he shoved Javi Lopez out the way to meet a corner with a bullet of a header, extending Barca’s lead.

Espanyol had some minor sights of goal but nothing that caused concern for Ter Stegen and Lopez got himself into trouble by missing a simple loose ball, allowing Rafinha to score.

The visitors gave the ball away on the edge of the box and moments later Alves was sending Suarez away, his cross knocked in at the back post by Neymar, leaving Barca 90 minutes from retaining the title.

Barcelona 5-0 Espanyol

Messi 8, Suarez 52, 61, Rafinha 75, Neymar 84

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba (Mathieu 70); Busquets, Rakitic (Rafinha 73), Iniesta (Arda 73); Messi, Suarez, Neymar

Espanyol: Pau Lopez; Javi Lopez, Roco, Duarte, Alvarez; Canas (Montanes 72), Diop, Sanchez; Perez (Rober 66), Caicedo (Gerard 46), Asensio

Referee: Gil Manzano

Tags Lionel Messi