Gijon, Sep 25: Two goals in two first-half minutes from Luis Suarez and Rafinha put Barcelona on track to a 5-0 win over Sporting Gijon, which seems to answer the question over whether or not they can still perform without Leo Messi.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique on Saturday made five changes from the side which drew 1-1 at home to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday and was without Messi who picked up a groin injury in the game, reports Xinhua.
The first 25 minutes saw Barca struggling to find fluency against a rival that was working hard in midfield and all the attacking baggage they showed were two shots over the bar from Andre Gomes.
That changed in the 29th minute when a poor clearance allowed Arda Turan to lob the ball over the home defence for Luis Suarez to take the ball round the keeper Pichu Cuellar to score.
Two minutes later Rafinha doubled Barca's lead with a diving header after a team move saw Sergi Roberto whip in a low cross for the Brazilian to put the ball in at the near post.
It could have been 3-0 immediately afterwards when Suarez fired into the side netting after finding space on the left of the home defence.
The second half didn't see much football, but did see plenty of fouls as the game became untidy and bad tempered as Sporting looked to keep the pressure on Barca and the home side were reduced to 10 men when Lora was shown his second yellow card.
Neymar made it 3-0 nine minutes from the end with a nice touch to fool Cuellar after Paco Alcacer had rattled the crossbar from another Sergi Roberto cross and the fullback made it a hat-trick of assists with a cross from which Arda Turan headed the fourth.It was 5-0 just before the end when Neymar beat Cuellar with a let foot shot after being teed up by Denis Suarez and it was almost 6 when he hit the post in injury time.