Messi double, Suarez goal fire Barca rout
By Tim Hanlon
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Lionel Messi scored two late goals and Luis Suarez got his first in La Liga as Barcelona crushed struggling Cordoba 5-0 on Saturday to finish the year a point behind leaders Real Madrid.
In-form Pedro put Barca ahead after 71 seconds, the second fastest goal in La Liga this season, with a clinical finish from a ball over the top of the defence by Ivan Rakitic.
The signs were ominous for Cordoba as they found themselves encamped in their own half, although Barca did not add to their lead until early in the second half through Suarez.
With the Cordoba players’ heads going down, Gerard Pique nodded a third before Messi's double took his season La Liga tally to 15 behind Cristiano Ronaldo who has 25 for Real Madrid.
Xavi came on as a second-half substitute in his 741st match for Barca, equalling the record of Real's Raul for the number of games played for a single club in Spanish football.
Barca have moved to 38 points from 16 games and are on the shoulders of Real, who have a game in hand on their arch-rivals.
In the late La Liga game, Valencia's Paco Alcacer struck in the first half to earn a 1-0 win at Eibar that moves them up to fourth with 31 points, a point and a place behind champions Atletico Madrid who visit Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
Uruguayan Suarez, who returned at the end of October from a four-month ban for biting at the World Cup, claimed his first league goal for Barca when he slotted home from a Pedro pass. Continued...