Neymar hits hat-trick as Barcelona force chase for La Liga into final week
La Liga, Estadio Gran Canaria - Las Palmas 1 (Bigas, 63') Barcelona 4 (Neymar 25', 67', 71', Suarez 27')
Neymar's superb hat-trick ensured that the battle to become champions of Spain will go until the final day of the season; Real Madrid need four points from two games to reclaim the title.
Barcelona started slowly in Gran Canaria, and when Lucas Digne hauled down Jese Rodriguez after Angel Montoro sent him in on goal, might have been reduced to ten men after just six minutes. But the referee spared himself the aggravation, deeming Samuel Umtiti close enough to get across and showing a yellow card; it looked a stretch, to say the least.
Helder Lopes and Ivan Rakitic, Las Palmas-BarcelonaGetty Images
Eventually Barcelona capitalised on their good fortune, beautifully crafted goals on 25 and 27 minutes to effectively end the match as a contest. Pedro Bigas did start and finish a brilliant break just past the hour that might have caused lesser teams to feel the pressure, but Barca just came again, scoring four minutes later through Neymar and then three minutes later through Neymar again.
TALKING POINT - Barca have no case for defence
Lucas Digne had a horrible game, and was eventually replaced by Andre Gomes. And now that they no longer have the best midfield of all-time to hoard possession, they cannot simply put whichever players they have spare into the back-four and know they'll be fine. So they must decide whether to keep faith with Umtiti, and also what to do at right-back.
Neymar and Luis Suárez (Barcelona) celebrate against Las PalmasGetty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH - Neymar (Barcelona)
Always a brilliant player, Neymar is the only star at Camp Nou who is on the way up. And he was very good tonight, inventive, menacing and scorer of a fine hat-trick.
- Neymar's hat-trick was his first for Barcelona away from home.
- Barca have scored 21 goals in their past five matches.
6’ - Las Palmas break, Montoro sliding a ball inside Digne for Jese. He bustles clear at inside-left, but Digne pulls him down just before he enters the box, and Gonzalez Gonzalez shows a yellow card, presumably on the understanding that Umtit was coming across. I'm not certain he'd have got there.
25’ - WHAT A LOVELY GOAL! Las Palmas 0-1 Barcelona (Neymar) Oh this is joyous. Busquets, facing his own goal, diddles to men with a double drag-back and turn, then finds Iniesta, who sends Suarez clear through the middle. He might score himself, but instead makes sure by squaring for Neymar, and he taps home.
27’ - WHAT A LOVELY GOAL! Las Palmas 0-2 Barcelona (Suarez) Neymar and Iniesta exchange passes, they Neymar, from on the left touchline, lifts a luscious pass over the top for Suarez. Again, he's clear, free of Lemos, and this time as the keeper comes out, he caresses the ball over him and into the far corner. I think Barca might win this one.
60’ - Some nice football! From Las Palmas! Lemos plays into Roque Mesa, and he plays a square ball for Jese who collects, holds off Andre Gomes, and shoots into Ter Stegen's legs. Decent save, and also decent defending; but encouraging from the home side too.
63’ - WHAT A GOAL! Las Palmas 1-2 Barcelona (Bigas) Bigas makes an interception on the edge of his own box and finds Momo on down the right. So off he pootles, knocking a ball into space ahead of him for Prince, who cuts back to the edge of the box, screws over a low cross, and there's Bigas to sweep home! Brilliant!
67’ - GOAL! Las Palmas 1-3 Barcelona (Neymar) The ability to pick it up like this is something. But Las Palmas sit off Andre Gomes down the right, allowing him to find Rakitic who crosses. In the middle, Suarez tries to get to it but misses; on the back post, Neymar does not, heading back across goal. Suarez tries again, sliding in, but the ball defeats him on its way into the far corner.
71’ - GOAL! Las Palmas 1-4 Barcelona (Neymar) It's a hat-trick! Rakitic spreads play crossfield for Jordi Alba, who puts it into space ahead of him, inside the box, but with the goal at an acute angle. Neymar runs onto the ball, and as Javi Varas comes out, gently strokes a clever finishacross him and into the far side-netting.