MADRID • Lionel Messi has been the star of Barcelona's blistering start to the season, but with the Argentinian suffering a rare off night and big-money signing Ousmane Dembele missing through injury, it was Luis Suarez who claimed the headlines in his 100th LaLiga appearance for the club on Saturday.
The Uruguayan sealed a comfortable 3-0 win over Catalan rivals Girona with a clinical finish to reach a remarkable tally of 87 goals in his century of league games.
The figures are all the more impressive given that it took Suarez almost two months to break his duck when he first arrived in Barcelona in 2014, and that his form has been erratic this season. Before Saturday, he had just one league goal to his name, and sat out last Tuesday's 6-1 thrashing of Eibar.
"Forwards live for goals. They can be low on confidence at times, but then they score and everything changes," coach Ernesto Valverde said of Suarez. "We're also delighted with how many chances he's able to create."
Known for his tireless work ethic, Suarez has also laid on 51 goals in the league for team-mates in 100 games, which comprises 77 wins, 11 draws and 12 losses.
Suarez rounded off the scoring on Saturday by whipping the ball into Gorka Iraizoz's near post from Sergi Roberto's pass over the top.
Before that, two own goals - by Aday Benitez and Iraizoz - gave the visitors a 2-0 lead.
Barca kept their 100 per cent LaLiga start, and opened up a four-point gap at the top, with Atletico Madrid moving into second place with a 2-0 win over Sevilla.
They also restored their seven-point advantage over Spanish champions Real Madrid.
Earlier on Saturday, Real returned to winning ways following their shock 1-0 defeat by Real Betis in midweek, as two first-half goals from Dani Ceballos in his maiden league start for the club sandwiched a Manu Garcia header for hosts Alaves.
"Today we needed the three points. We are not in brilliant form, but for sure we will play better on other days," said Real boss Zinedine Zidane.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE