Barca roll past La Coruna to take a six-point lead in La Liga.

By 90Min
December 17, 2017

Barcelona stretched their current unbeaten league run to 23 games on Sunday evening thanks to a classy 4-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna. 

A brace each for Luis Suarez and Paulinho were more than enough to see off a dogged Branquiazuis, even though the scoreline suggested otherwise. 

However, in truth it was a night of missed chances, with Lionel Messi himself clattering the woodwork on three separate occasions, as well as seeing his penalty saved midway through the second-half, in addition to his Uruguayan teammate spurning a number of opportunities and seemingly seeing another perfectly legal goal ruled out due to the lack of goal-line technology in La Liga

However, those blemishes mattered little, with Barca now holding a six-point lead over closest title chasers Atletico Madrid, and heading into the first El Clasico of the season next weekend in truly inspired form. 

It was a measured opening inside a fairly sparse Camp Nou, with the hosts, as expected, seeing the majority of possession, and it took until just the third minute for the first clear chance of the evening. 

Following steady possession Barca turned up the tempo and carved open a fairly attacking Deportivo line-up, allowing injury returnee Andres Iniesta to open his legs on right-hand side of the area before squaring a simple cross across the face of goal. 

The Spaniard's set up looked destined to find a blue and red shirt, which it did, however, rather remarkably Messi, who picked up the golden shoe award for his 2016-17 season haul before proceedings began, lifted his attempt uncharacteristically over the top of Ruben's crossbar and allowed the visitors a huge let off. 

Just a few moments later Depor found more fortune, this time thanks to the linesman, who spotted Paco Alcacer had strayed into an offside position before teeing up Suarez for the simplest of tap-ins, keeping the scores goalless.  

That is the way things stayed for a short period, but only down to the goalkeeping heroics of the visitors' shot-stopper, who made three smart saves in the matter of a few minutes. 

Ruben was able to halt Messi on two occasions, however, it was the 33-year-old's fingertip block against substitute Aleix Vidal, who replaced the injured Alcacer in the opening half-hour, in between the Argentine's duo of sightings which impressed most. 

But the Spaniard could do nothing to keep his side level shortly afterwards, as a combination of Iniesta's sublime lock-picking pass from deep, Messi's perfectly timed run - which got the better of Depor's offside trap - and the 30-year-old's cushioned squared cross into the path of Suarez for a tap in finally gave Barca their deserved lead. 

The hosts then came within a lick of paint to doubling their advantage, as a quick breakaway afforded the little magician the chance to bear down on goal before attempting to feed his Uruguayan teammate. 

Instead of taking the effort on himself, Suarez's quick return pass to his fellow South American on the edge of the area allowed the Argentine to dispatch his effort which cannoned back off the crossbar and allowed Branquiazuis to breath again. 

However, just moments later, that second breakthrough did come, and again Messi played an instrumental role within it. 

The Barcelona great found a pocket of space to work a shot from on the edge of the area, which again only found the woodwork, but this time teammate Paulinho was on hand to turn in the rebound past the floored Ruben to offer a more comfortable cushion for the Catalonians.

But with just seconds remaining in the first-half, Barca again found themselves subject to a goal-line dispute, as for the second time this season, and third this calendar year, it appeared Ernesto Valverde's side were wrongly refused a legal goal. 

Admittedly, unlike the duo previously, replays were not completely conclusive, however with the angles on offer, Suarez's rabona finish from close range did appear to cross the line. 

But, as has become a trend for Barcelona, the officials said no, leaving the hosts with a two-goal advantage going into the break. 

However, less than two minutes into the second-half Suarez did grab his second goal of the evening. 

Following simply sublime and intricate build-up play in the centre of the park, Sergi Roberto was found in space on the right-hand wing before whipping in a first-time, inch-perfect low cross towards the back post which was met by the 30-year-old talisman, allowing a simple finish from close range to put the game to bed. 

But three did not seem enough for the hosts, nor Messi, who with 20 minutes to go rattled the woodwork for the third time of the evening after bending a superb free-kick round the Depor wall and beating custodian Ruben at full stretch. 

Again, just moments later it looked to be confirmed it was not going to be the Argentina international's night in front of goal, as the usually so clinical attacker was denied from the penalty spot by a strong left-hand of the ageing visitors' custodian after Suarez was hacked down inside the area by Federico Valverde

However, with 15 minutes to go Barca did notch their fourth of the evening, as for the second time of the night Paulinho was on hand to finish from close range following a rebound off the post - this time coming from Jordi Alba's attempted slotted effort from the left-hand side of the area. 

That is the way things stayed and Barcelona now hold a six-point gap over Atletico Madrid following Valencia's slip up earlier in the weekend heading into the first El Clasico of the season. 

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