Suarez, Neymar lead Barca to 2-1 win at Las Palmas
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Luis Suarez and Neymar scored again to lead Barcelona past Las Palmas 2-1 on Saturday, extending their club record to 32 games without a loss and increasing their overnight lead of the Spanish league.
Suarez struck six minutes into the match on the Canary Islands, and Neymar re-established the visitors’ advantage before halftime after Las Palmas striker Willian Jose made it 1-1.
Barcelona increased the gap to nine points before second-place Atletico Madrid hosts fourth-place Villarreal on Sunday, when Real Madrid visits Malaga trailing the pacesetter by 10.
On course to retain the domestic title, the reigning European champion returns to the Champions League on Tuesday with a visit to Arsenal to start the round of 16.
But to win their eighth Liga match in a row, Barcelona needed Las Palmas to miss two clear chances when a late push by the club in danger of falling back into the second division came up empty.
“In order to win titles, you have to pull out games like these,” Suarez said. “We have had a tougher time away from home but we take away the three points and have to be happy.”
Suarez raised his competition-leading tally to 25 goals in as many rounds while Neymar notched his 18th league goal of the campaign. Suarez, Neymar, and Lionel Messi have 36 goals in Barcelona’s last 14 games.
Elsewhere, John Guidetti netted a brace before Celta Vigo survived two late goals by Eibar in a 3-2 win to leapfrog the Basque club into sixth place.
Espanyol also ended an eight-round winless streak by beating Deportivo La Coruna 1-0 thanks to Marco Asensio’s second-half goal, while Sporting Gijon scored from its sole shot on goal by Carlos Castro to escape with a 1-1 draw at Real Betis.
Suarez got Barcelona off to a great start when he used a one-touch strike to drill Jordi Alba’s pass into the upper corner of the net. Andres Iniesta started the move that led to the opener with a pass to spring Alba down the left flank.
But Las Palmas was not deterred and leveled when Jose received Jonthan Viera’s deft pass with the back of his heel, leaving him all alone to size up goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and slot the ball under his outstretched leg.
“In games like these when (Barcelona) knows they are much better, they don’t play with the same intensity,” Las Palmas manager Quique Setien said. “We played a great match. But if you make the slightest mistake, you don’t have a chance with the players they have up front.”
Las Palmas mustered the occasional threat but first Messi, then Iniesta drew saves from goalie Javi Varas before Suarez squandered a Messi free kick with a header that barely missed.
Barcelona’s prolific strike trio teamed to restore the lead before halftime when Suarez dribbled past two defenders and passed for Messi to draw a save from Varas that Neymar finished off.
Suarez wasted another opportunity four minutes after halftime when he volleyed Dani Alves’ pass directly into Varas, with Bravo then denying Viera.
Having failed to build a bigger lead, Barcelona dodged two chances by Las Palmas’ Sergio Araujo to snatch away a draw. The substitute twice sent balls just by the upright in the final minutes.
“In the last 10 minutes what we saw was more their effort than our errors,” Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said. “We competed and fought for everything in this match. I go home with the feeling that we can improve some things but pleased for the result.”