Suarez gets first bite at top scorer's award

Barcelona's Luis Suarez celebrates his four-goal salvo that sank Sporting Gijon. He now leads La Liga's scoring charts with 34 goals.
Barcelona's Luis Suarez celebrates his four-goal salvo that sank Sporting Gijon. He now leads La Liga's scoring charts with 34 goals. PHOTO: REUTERS

BARCELONA • Luis Suarez could soon be the first player not named Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi to win the Pichichi trophy since 2009 after notching four goals in Barcelona's 6-0 win over Sporting Gijon on Saturday.

But the forward insisted that team honours are more important than individual ones, with the victory ensuring Barcelona remained top of La Liga with three games left.

"I am a bit surprised to score eight goals in four days," said Suarez after becoming the first La Liga player to score four goals for two successive matches, having netted a quadruple in Wednesday's 8-0 rout of Deportivo La Coruna.

"Being top scorer wasn't my objective and now we have three games left, and with the help of my team mates, if I can do it I'll welcome it but the priority for the team is the league."

The Uruguayan has 34 league goals this season, moving ahead of Real Madrid's Ronaldo (31) as the top scorer. Suarez is also in line to claim the Golden Boot as Europe's leading marksman, a prize he shared with Ronaldo in 2013-14.

It was Messi who put Barca ahead on 12 minutes with a stooping header.

Suarez got his first by tapping home Andres Iniesta's low cross in the 63rd minute before converting twice from the spot.

He grabbed another goal in the 88th minute, drilling in a pass from Messi, but not before giving Neymar - who has been criticised for his recent poor form - the ball to take Barca's third spot kick.

It was a move which impressed defender Gerard Pique.

"He has proved for a long time that he's generous," he said of Suarez. "We hope he spends many more years here."

Neymar had won the penalty, which he converted after Sporting defender Ognjen Vranjes was sent off in the 85th minute for picking up a second booking.

"More important than anything is the confidence that everyone feels which helps the team," Suarez explained.

"That will benefit us all."

Barcelona are top of the table only on goal difference ahead as Atletico Madrid won earlier on Saturday.

Real Madrid are one point adrift in third position.

Atletico, who have an inferior head-to-head record against the Catalan giants, got to 82 points with a 1-0 home victory over Malaga.

But Atletico manager Diego Simeone could be facing a three-game ban from the touchline after being sent off at half-time in bizarre circumstances.

Referee Mateu Lahoz punished the Argentinian after an extra ball was thrown onto the pitch from near the Atletico bench to break up a dangerous Malaga counter-attack.

"It is clear the referee took the correct decision," said Simeone.

"We hope it isn't too many games."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2016, with the headline 'Suarez gets first bite at top scorer's award'. Print Edition | Subscribe