- Luis Suarez gave Barcelona the lead in the 29th minute after he was found expertly by midfielder Arda Turan
- Rafinha – brother of Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago – finished a fine move to head home from close range
- Neymar added the third goal late on after turning home from close range after Suarez rattled the crossbar
- Turan took advantage of the home side’s tiring legs to net a fourth before Neymar scored the fifth late on
- Lionel Messi has been ruled out for three to four weeks after suffering a groin strain against Atletico Madrid
Luis Suarez and Neymar made sure Barcelona did not miss the injured Leo Messi by both scoring in a 5-0 away win over Sporting Gijon.
Messi was missing after tearing an abductor muscle in midweek but just as they did this time last season when he was out for two months with a knee injury his pals stepped in.
Suarez broke the deadlock in the first half and Neymar grabbed two second half goals. Rafinha, and Arda Turan also scored as Barcelona put five past a Sporting side for whom Barça loanee Douglas made a late second half appearance.
Chances were few and far between in the first 20 minutes. Alberto Lora was booked for dragging back Rafinha but from the resulting free-kick Neymar did not trouble Ivan Cuellar in the Sporting goal.
At the other end Barça keeper Marc Andre ter Stegen was making trouble for himself. He handled the ball outside of his area coming for a long crossfield ball into the box from Sporting but Sergio Roberto headed the free-kick away.
The game was very open and that was always going to favour Barcelona more than Sporting. On the half hour Suarez sprang Sporting’s off-side trap running on to a pass from Arda Turan playing in midfield ahead of the rested Andres Iniesta.
Cuellar came racing off his line and flew at Suarez, Jackie Chan-style, but the Barça forward left him hanging in mid-air nudging the ball one side and running the other before finishing into an empty net.
Two minutes later and it was two. Neymar played Sergio Roberto down the right and he crossed for Rafinha to head in at the near post. It looked like game over in 120 seconds and it might have been three when Suarez blasted his short towards the same near post gap that Rafinha had found only to send it the wrong side of the post.
But Sporting showed resilience at the start of the second half. Victor Rodriguez got away from Gerard Pique in the area and with a low shot forced Ter Stegen to push the ball wide for a corner.
They were also operating on both sides of the rules of the game – Moi Gomez kicked Sergio Busquets off the ball and the lynchpin at the heart of the Barcelona midfield when down holding the back of his calf before going off shortly afterwards. Sporting right back Lillo elbowed Arda Turan but somehow escaped punishment.
Sporting threw on homegrown striker Carlos Castro in place of Duje Cop in an attempt to break down Barça’s defence but it was the visitors who had the ball in the net next although the flag was up when Mathieu scored from an offside position.
With one eye on Champions League meeting with Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday Luis Enrique took Luis Suarez off with 20 minutes left. Paco Alcacer came on and Suarez leaving might have been the spur for Sporting to get a foothold in the game but they immediately shot themselves in the foot.
The outstanding Sergio Roberto went hurtling down the right and when Loro came across to slide in and win the ball – he got nothing on it and took out the man instead. The second yellow was duly shown and Sporting were now chasing the game with 10-men.
Douglas came on for Sporting. He had passed a fitness test after that bizarre injury sustained sleeping awkwardly on the team bus. The Barça loanee had ten minutes to inflict some damage on the club that pays his wages.
Before he could get a touch on the ball Barça had made it three. Sergio Roberto flew down Douglas’ wing and crossed to Alcacer at the near post. His volley was pushed spectacularly onto his bar by Cuellar but Neymar cleverly converted the rebound.
Sporting were now waving Barça attacks through. Sergio Roberto made it a hat-trick of crossed assists by planting the ball on Arda Turan’s head and the Turkish midfielder made it 4-0. With three minutes left Deni Suarez slipped the ball through to Neymar and he completed the rout.