Hat-trick for Suarez as Barcelona pile pressure on Real Madrid boss Lopetegui

Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick as Barcelona thrashed Real Madrid 5-1 in what could be Real manager Julen Lopetegui’s first and last experience of El Clasico.

Lopetegui was already under pressure before the eagerly-anticipated clash at the Nou Camp and his players did him no favours as they stumbled to a third straight LaLiga defeat for the first time since May 2009.

The loss leaves Real ninth in the table and seven points behind pacesetters Barcelona, who were without talisman Lionel Messi after he suffered a broken arm in last week’s victory over Sevilla.

The home side took the lead in the 11th minute when Ivan Rakitic’s superb ball over the top found Jordi Alba in acres of space on the left and he pulled the ball back into an ideal position for Philippe Coutinho to simply side-foot the ball into the net from 10 yards.

Barcelona almost doubled their lead after 18 minutes when Sergio Ramos was guilty of giving the ball away in a dangerous area and Arthur’s fierce shot drew an excellent save from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

The home fans did not have to wait long before their side made it 2-0 from the penalty spot, although it took the use of the VAR before referee Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez pointed to the spot after initially waving away claims that Suarez had been brought down by Raphael Varane.

Suarez, who had nipped in front of Varane to collect Alba’s pass before being pushed to the ground, took the penalty himself and found the bottom corner despite the best efforts of Courtois.

Despite his assists for both goals, Alba continued to be given plenty of freedom down the left and Real were grateful that his 38th-minute cross was just too high for Suarez.

Moments later Rakitic and Nacho became the first players to be booked for fouls on Toni Kroos and Coutinho respectively, before Rafinha badly overhit a pass that should have set Suarez clean through on goal.

Rafinha attempted to make amends with a curling 20-yard shot which flew just over the bar and Madrid were grateful to get to half-time only two goals behind.

Sergio Ramos
Sergio Ramos cannot prevent Philippe Coutinho’s opener (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Real had been restricted to long-range shots in the opening period but were back in the contest after just five minutes of the second half as Isco’s cross from the byline caused panic in the home defence and Marcelo controlled the ball on his chest before stabbing home.

The visitors were almost level five minutes later when Luka Modric’s shot slammed into a post and ran across goal to safety, while at the other end Suarez also hit the frame of the goal with an acrobatic volley as the game began to live up to its billing.

Real missed a great chance to equalise after 67 minutes when Karim Benzema headed over from six yards following a pinpoint cross from half-time substitute Lucas Vazquez.

And they were made to pay seven minutes later when Suarez showed Benzema how it should be done, heading home from more than twice the distance after being set up by Sergi Roberto.

Roberto was again the provider with eight minutes left, dispossessing Ramos and releasing Suarez to clip the ball over Courtois and complete his hat-trick, while there was still time for a fifth goal as Ousmane Dembele provided the perfect cross for fellow substitute Arturo Vidal to head home.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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