It was a great morning at Catalonya as a jam-packed Camp Nou witnessed their much loved club take on Rayo Vallecano in the bid to reach the top of the table as arch-rivals Real Madrid failed to make the most out of the match against Athletic Bilbao the previous day.
The game began with the visitors opting for a highly ambitious approach of attacking and going for a win. Manager Paco Jemez was did not seem willing to play reactive soccer. Instead he urged his team to play their usual attacking game sticking to their own principles without tampering their tactics fearing Barcelona. But the inevitable started happening and in the opening minutes of the game Barcelona exposed the Rayo Vallecano defense.
Then came the goal in the 5rd minute as Suarez hit the ball at the back of the net from the outside of his boot. It was a one-on-one battle between him and Alvarez who came charging forward but the sharp Uruguayan got the better off the Rayo goalkeeper.
The first half witnessed several chances for the home side to extend their lead. Even though it was just a one goal lead but the tempo of the game suggested that Barcelona had the game very much in their control and there was very little chance of them not winning this game. With time, Vallecano adopted practical approach started focusing on the defense and were fortunate to have let only one goal in their net by half time.
Barcelona vs. Rayo Vallecano 8-3-2015 Full Highlights HD with English Commentary
Barcelona were showing every sign of extending their lead in the second half and they finally succeeded in the 49’ minute as Pique poached home a ball that actually came off the post as Jordi Alba tried to head home a corner. This was what Luis Enrique really needed to be comfortable in the fixture and the home side seemed to have made it to the top of the table again for the first time since November.
There was undoubtedly rejoice in the entire of Catalan after these two goals but this was just the cake, the icing was still remaining. Suarez was brought down by right-back Tito inside the box as the Uruguayan was trying to spin away from him in order to reach an aerial ball. Tit who was already on a yellow received his second booking in the same game and thus was sent off leaving Rayo down to just ten men.
No doubt it was the Argentine Maestro who stepped up to take the spot kick in the 56’ minute. Messi would’ve been a highly criticized target for the coming week and a serious doubt as Barcelona’s first choice penalty kick taker had it not been for the referee’s decision to let Barcelona re-take the penalty. Messi’s first attempt from the spot was very convincingly saved by Alvarez but the drama was yet to unfold as the referee had spotted some encroachment in the area as Leo was taking the penalty. It was as if Leo Messi was granted a second chance and it was very evident as he couldn’t help resist a fortunate smile after missing the penalty and the Rayo goalkeeper Alvarez exchanged some warm mocking words with Leo after the referee ordered a retake of the penalty. It was utterly disappointing for the Rayo players to witness a retake of a brilliantly stopped penalty and in the process of arguing with the referee and expressing frustration Trashorras got a yellow. Messi retook the spot kick and this time he chose the other side to score and despite of a yet another magnificently anticipated dive by Alvarez the shot found its way into the back of the net.
Things were slowly starting to crumble for the away side who shown tremendous determination in order to prevent a rout. Down to ten men and three goals conceded out of which one was a very misfortunate penalty drama, the visitors had literally given up chasing this fixture. To top it all Messi tapped home his second of the day in the 63’ minute as Alvarez parried away a Suarez shot straight into the feet of the opportunistic Argentine.
Enrique brought of Iniesta in the 65’ probably to preserve him for the next game and Rafinha was brought in. Iniesta was parted with a standing ovation from the home crowd.
Three minutes later Messi created history as he slotted home his third of the day after gliding past Alvarez who impatiently scrambled in front of Messi as he tried to break past him. In the process he left the goal fully open and Messi went round Alvarez and rolled the ball home from a tight angle. With this Messi got his 32nd career hat trick for Barcelona. He also surpassed Telmo Zarra who had 31 hat tricks as the player to have scored the most hat tricks in Spanish soccer history. This is another brand new record to Messi’s name. With this hat trick Messi also set the record for most hat tricks in La Liga history. This was his 24th hat trick in La Liga and he just overtook Ronaldo who has 23 hat tricks. This is not it, Messi leveled up with Ronaldo in the race for the La Liga top scorer both with 30 goals. Within just 12 minutes, Messi got his record breaking hat trick and he took his total goal tally in all competitions this season to 41 goals and thus became the first player in Spanish soccer history to have crossed the 40 goal mark across six different seasons.
Barcelona were cruising to the top with 5 goals but there was space enough to accommodate a slight set back. Dani Alves saw a straight red as he brought down Bueno inside the box in the 81st minute. Bueno stepped up to take the spot kick and made no mistake in denying Bravo a clean sheet victory.
But the rout was not over as Luis Suarez got his second of the day in additional time as he rounded off Alvarez and slotted the ball into an open net. With this Barcelona completed the thrashing of mid tabled Rayo Vallecano. Messi wrote his names into record books once again and Barcelona convincingly moved to the top of the table. Barcelona have their heads up in all the three major competitions in Europe and with the El Clasico within two weeks time, all is seeming positive for Luis Enrique’s side. Their next big challenge is the home leg of the round of 16 against Manchester City in the Champions league.
MATCH VENUE: Camp Nou, Barcelona
REFEREE: Jesus Gil
Bravo; Alves, Mathieu, Pique, Alba (Adriano 69’); Mascherano (Rakitic 60’), Xavi, Iniesta (Rafinha 65’); Messi, Suárez, Pedro
Rayo Vallecano: (4-5-1)
Cristian Alvarez; Tito, Abdoulaye, Amaya, Insua; Jozabed (Quini 65’), Trashorras, Lica (Aquino 69’), Bueno, Kakuta; Baptistao (Manucho 81’)
Tito 27’ (Yellow) 54’ (Red)
Trashorras 56’ (Yellow)
Aquino 84’ (Yellow)
Adriano 90’ (Yellow)
Mascherano 29’ (Yellow)
Alba 57’ (Yellow)
Dani Alves 80’ (Red)