BARCELONA (REUTERS) - Lionel Messi scored twice and Luis Suarez struck his first La Liga goal as Barcelona crushed struggling Cordoba 5-0 on Saturday to finish the year a point behind Real Madrid at the top of the table.
In form Pedro put Barca ahead after just 71 seconds, the second quickest in La Liga this season, with a clinical finish from a ball over the top of the defence by Ivan Rakitic.
The signs were ominous for Cordoba as they found themselves encamped in their own half, although Barca did not add to their lead until the start of the second half through Suarez.
The Uruguayan returned from a four-month ban for biting at the end of October and claimed his first goal in La Liga when he slotted the ball home from a Pedro pass.
With the Cordoba players' heads going down, Gerard Pique nodded in Barca's third and then Messi fired in a late double.
Xavi came on as a second-half substitute in his 741st match for Barca, equalling the record of Real's Raul for the number of games for a single club in Spanish football.
Barca have moved on to the shoulders of Real who are playing the Club World Cup final on Saturday against San Lorenzo and have played a game less then their arch-rivals.