Football: Neymar double as Barca's rampant strikers sink Sociedad

Neymar (centre) celebrates with Suarez (left) and Messi after scoring their third goal.
Neymar (centre) celebrates with Suarez (left) and Messi after scoring their third goal.AFP

BARCELONA (REUTERS) - A Neymar double, a spectacular volley from Luis Suarez and a goal for Lionel Messi saw top of the table Barcelona’s unstoppable strike force sweep aside Real Sociedad 4-0 in La Liga on Saturday.

An early goal from the in-form Antoine Griezmann gave Atletico Madrid a 1-0 victory over Espanyol that keeps them four points behind Barca.

Neymar slotted home a Dani Alves cross after 22 minutes and Alves was again the provider for Suarez who acrobatically beat Real keeper Geronimo Rulli before halftime to take his tally to 11 goals in seven games.

La Liga’s top scorer Neymar took his total to 14 this season as he knocked in a Jeremy Mathieu cross after 53 minutes and in injury time he set up Messi to score from close range.

Barca have 33 points from 13 games with Atletico Madrid on 29. Real Madrid, who were hammered 4-0 by Barca last weekend and are now nine points off the pace, play Eibar on Sunday.

Astonishingly, the trio’s latest heroics meant that Messi, Neymar and Suarez have so far scored 125 goals between them in all competitions for Barca over the calendar year.

“Between them, they look for each other all the time and the objective is for them to be happy which happens when they score,” Alves told reporters.

Suarez could have put Barca ahead within three minutes as he went through on goal but Rulli got down well to block his shot and the Real keeper had to be alert again to take the ball off the feet of Neymar, who tried to go around him.

Andres Iniesta was close to scoring with a rare header from a Suarez cross but the ball came back off the left post.

Alves crossed for Neymar to slam the ball into the roof of the net with his left foot and with Barca continuing to press, it was Alves again, having been found by a raking pass from Iniesta, who sent a deep cross for Suarez to volley home.

With Barca comfortably in charge and the Real defence stretched, Neymar notched his second before Messi scored in the final moments, having hit the crossbar with a strike from the edge of the area minutes earlier.

Griezmann’s goal earned a third straight league win for Atletico, who have now gone five games in all competitions without conceding a goal.

The Frenchman got in front of Enzo Roco and prodded in a pass from Oliver Torres with just three minutes gone.

Griezmann’s strike came on the back of his two goals that gave Atletico victory over Galatasaray in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Atletico lost Tiago to injury after 33 minutes but remained in control and created chances to increase their lead in the second half with Diego Godin heading against a post and then, with just three minutes left, a Koke shot also striking the woodwork.