La Liga: Suarez scores hat trick as Barcelona demolishes Cordoba
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Luis Suarez netted his first hat trick for Barcelona while Lionel Messi scored his 50th and 51st goals in all competitions as the Spanish league leader routed last-place Cordoba 8-0 on Saturday.
Barcelona opened up a five-point gap over Real Madrid before the second-place side visited Sevilla later, while Cordoba's 17th round without a win confirmed the team's relegation.
Messi played Ivan Rakitic clear to start the goal-fest minutes before halftime, and Suarez got his first goal in first-half injury time.
Dani Alves crossed for Messi and Suarez to add two headed goals before Gerard Pique netted a header of his own.
Messi, Neymar and Suarez then polished off the demolition that matched Barcelona's most lopsided away win in the league. Barcelona also won 8-0 at Almeria in 2010 and at Las Palmas in 1959.
"If we want to win the league, we have to take care of business, regardless of where we play or the situation of our opponents," Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said. "Today we took care of business. Now let's see what Madrid does."
Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid was held to 0-0 at home by Athletic Bilbao as the soon-to-be-dethroned titleholders remained in third place at 11 points adrift.
Barcelona will take a run of 15 wins in 16 matches back to Camp Nou, where it faces former coach Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinals on Wednesday.
Messi surpassed the 50-goal mark in his 50th match of the season. His two goals also put him ahead of Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, 40 to 39, in their race to finish as La Liga's top scorer.
Suarez, likewise, stayed in fine form with five goals in his last two matches, and 17 goals in his last 16 appearances, while Neymar earned and converted a penalty five minutes from time to extend his scoring run to four straight matches.
Cordoba resisted as long as Barcelona misfired. But once Messi unlocked its five-man defense with a lobbed pass for Rakitic to rifle into the top of the net, the hosts quickly collapsed.
Madrid must now match Barcelona's win at a Sevilla side that hasn't lost at home in 34 straight games. There will then be three rounds remaining.
Also late, Villarreal visited Deportivo La Coruna.