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FOOTBALL

Suarez’s Brace Ends Madrid’s Brief Reign Atop La Liga

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LEADERSHIP EDITORS

Barcelona leapfrogged Real Madrid in the title race as second-half goals from Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic secured a convincing 3-0 victory over Espanyol in the Catalonian derby.
Luis Enrique’s side – who would have been behind early on at Estadi Cornella-El Prat had Jurado made the most of a golden opportunity – were found lacking in the first half of Saturday’s clash, but Suarez came up with the goods early in the second period.
Jurado was the architect of Espanyol’s downfall, as his sloppy back pass teed up the Uruguayan, who made no mistake in netting his 25th LaLiga goal of the season – and his first in four games.
It was a cruel blow for Quique Sanchez Flores’ side, who had more than held their own in a scrappy opening half.
And the result was wrapped up for Barca late on, Rakitic sliding a composed finish across Diego Lopez following a fantastic run from Lionel Messi before Suarez capitalised on another defensive mistake to add a third.
The victory represents a 16th consecutive victory for Barca against their local rivals, and moves Luis Enrique’s side top of the pile in LaLiga with three games remaining.
After a frantic start, it was Espanyol who should have opened the scoring six minutes in. Felipe Caicedo threaded a neat pass into Jurado who somehow failed to hit the target from 10 yards out.
Barca did not take long to respond as Neymar – returning to Luis Enrique’s starting XI following a three-match suspension – found space, only to see his goalbound strike blocked by David Lopez.
Espanyol’s defence was well organised, though, and despite dominating possession Barca were unable to find a way through their hosts’ stubborn backline.
Indeed, it was nothing more than a hopeful cross from Neymar that created Barca’s best chance of the first half but, unmarked at the back post, Sergi Roberto could only direct his header into the side netting.



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