Luis Suarez scored a spectacular overhead kick to inspire nine-man Barcelona to a 4-0 LaLiga victory over Sevilla at the Nou Camp.
Suarez opened the scoring in acrobatic fashion in the 27th minute and goals from Arturo Vidal, Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi – his first of the season from a trademark free-kick – sealed a comfortable victory.
The win was Barca’s fourth in a row in all competitions since a shock 2-0 loss at Granada on September 21 and lifts Ernesto Valverde’s side to second place in LaLiga, two points behind leaders Real Madrid.
However, the win was marred by the late dismissals of Dembele and Ronald Araujo, the former receiving a second yellow card for dissent after last man Araujo had been sent off for hauling down Javier Hernandez.
Sevilla began the game brightly and were left to rue a number of missed chances, with striker Luuk De Jong the main culprit.
De Jong saw his first-time shot superbly saved at his near post by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen after 11 minutes but should have broken the deadlock seven minutes later when he fired wide from six yards with the goal at his mercy.
Messi then curled a free-kick over the crossbar before De Jong squandered another good chance, heading a cross from Lucas Ocampos into the ground and over the bar from close range.
Moments later Suarez made the visitors pay the price for their profligacy, the Uruguay international connecting perfectly with an overhead kick to dispatch Nelson Semedo’s cross into the bottom corner.
Vidal doubled the lead five minutes later when he slid in to convert a pin-point pass from Arthur as Sevilla players appealed in vain for offside and Dembele soon made it 3-0 with a delightful right-footed finish from 12 yards out.
Sevilla’s miserable evening in front of goal continued as Nolito headed a cross from Jesus Navas tamely at Ter Stegen before half-time and the interval did nothing to change matters.
Five minutes into the second half, De Jong dispossessed Arthur on the edge of the penalty area but could only hit the post with a right-footed shot and it was no surprise when the 29-year-old was substituted with 25 minutes remaining.
After two previous attempts Messi finally found his range 12 minutes from time and curled a superb free-kick beyond Tomas Vaclik to open his account for the season.
That should have been the signal for the game to peter out but Araujo brought down fellow substitute Hernandez on the edge of the area as he attempted to run through on goal and was sent off.
Dembele, who had been booked early in the second half, was quick to remonstrate with the referee but appeared to overstep the mark and was shown a second yellow card.
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Ernesto Valverde questioned both of Barcelona’s red cards that came late on in their 4-0 thrashing of Sevilla at the Nou Camp.
First-half goals from Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal and Ousmane Dembele put the home side in charge before Lionel Messi added a fourth as Barca remained two points behind LaLiga leaders Real Madrid.
But they ended the game with nine men as debutant Ronald Araujo and Dembele both saw red, the former for a professional foul and the France winger for dissent in a game that also had a total of eight yellow cards
Valverde said, according to AS: “It is the referee’s criteria when assessing fouls. Everyone always has their opinion, but it has been a clean match.
“I am sorry for the dismissal of Araujo because it was his debut. I did not think (it was a red card) and Dembele is a mystery.”
Dembele’s second booking came after he reportedly said something to the referee.
Valverde is unaware what was said but hopes he will not be given a longer suspension, with his side hosting Real Madrid in a fortnight.
The Barca boss added: “It is difficult to get words from Dembele in Spanish. I haven’t talked to him but I don’t think it’s too long a suspension.”
Messi’s goal was his first of the season in his fifth appearance in all competitions.
Valverde said: “Leo grabs goals and when he finds form he will score more, but it is good for us that there are other players who score goals.”
Sevilla head coach Julen Lopetegui felt his side failed to take advantage of some early chances.
“We have faced (the match) with a lot of ambition and personality,” he said on Sevilla’s website.
“The first 35 minutes were totally ours with many chances, but in such a scenario when you don’t score the law of football happens.
“We were very good, but the first goal has done us a lot of damage.
“Now it is time to analyse the game and take advantage of this break to reset.”
A quartet of fine individual goals, including Lionel Messi’s 2019/20 opener, saw ruthless La Liga champions Barcelona roar into the international break with an ominous 4-0 victory against Sevilla, despite finishing with nine men.
Momentum gained via the midweek, come-from-behind victory against Inter Milan in the Champions League was built upon at Camp Nou on Sunday. Not even the 87th-minute dismissal of debutant Ronald Araujo for a pull on substitute Javier Hernandez, then subsequent red card for a protesting Ousmane Dembele, could truly sour the night.
A stupendous few days for Uruguay hit man Luis Suarez continued with a sublime 27th-minute bicycle kick to open the scoring against Julen Lopetegui’s sixth-placed visitors. The rampaging runs of Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal – selected in place of Spain anchor man Sergio Busquets – gained reward when he slid home a quick-fire from Brazil conductor Arthur’s penetrative pass, before France winger Dembele – in for compatriot Antoine Griezmann – skilfully checked back and slotted into the bottom corner to make it 3-0 with 10 minutes left of the opening period.
The Catalans then kept their visitors at arm’s length, prior to Argentine icon Messi netting a textbook 78th-minute free-kick to move onto 37 goals in 38 games versus the visitors. This result placed Barca into second spot, while Sevilla – who will point to more missed chances from new striker Luuk de Jong – have now lost three of their last four top-flight fixtures.
Here are the player ratings:
Marc-Andre ter Stegen 6: Did well to deny Sergio Reguilon, then saved by post from De Jong.
Sergi Roberto 6: Nondescript night for Roberto. Looks more comfortable at right-back.
Jean-Clair Todibo 6: Made a few solid headers, however night was soured by removal via injury in second half.
Gerard Pique 6: Picked up the booking required to feature in El Clasico. Guided Todibo through game, before injury.
Nelson Semedo 7: Showed versatility, yet again, on the left flank. Put in the cross for Suarez’s eye-catching goal.
Arturo Vidal 8: Burst forward to latch onto Arthur’s pass for the second justified his start, at expense of Busquets.
Frenkie de Jong 7: Sublime first-half pirouette brought gasps of approval from Camp Nou. Did well at base of midfield.
Arthur 7: Pair of assists for the burgeoning Brazil international. A force to be reckoned with.
Lionel Messi 7: Continued his bullying of Sevilla, statistically his favourite opponent, with a second-half free-kick. Is clearly working his way into shape after a disrupted summer.
Luis Suarez 7: What a week for the Uruguay superstar, whose got three world-class goals in two games.
Ousmane Dembele 5: Did so well to take his goal, then spoiled night with sending off for dissent. Ups and downs.
Sergio Busquets 6: Another one to get booked in 88th-minute melee. Dropped after poor recent form.
Ivan Rakitic 6: Called back into action. Produced one wild shot.
Ronald Araujo 3: A dream debut for Barca turned into a nightmare when dismissed for tugging Chicharito.