Newly-crowned World Player of the Year Lionel Messi had to be withdrawn at half-time with a hamstring problem as Luis Suarez’s hat-trick led Barcelona to a 6-0 thrashing of 10-man Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
Real Madrid remain two points behind Barca as Zinedine Zidane’s dream start to life as boss continued as Los Blancos scored four times in the opening 18 minutes on their way to a 5-1 rout of Sporting Gijon.
However, Zidane’s joy was also tempered by an injury to Gareth Bale.
Atletico Madrid stay a point clear at the top thanks to Antoine Griezmann’s double in a 3-0 victory at Las Palmas.
Messi paraded his record fifth Ballon d’Or before kick-off and the game at the Camp Nou barely lasted three minutes as a contest.
Suarez was brought down as he rounded Gorka Iraizoz and the Athletic goalkeeper was shown a red card for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Messi converted the resulting spot-kick and Suarez was also heavily involved for the second as he played in Neymar to dink his 19th goal of the season past substitute ‘keeper Iago Herrerin.
Messi wasn’t risked for the second-half after feeling a hamstring strain.
However, the Argentine wasn’t missed as brilliant play from Neymar teed up Suarez and Ivan Rakitic to make it 4-0.
Suarez rounded off the scoring with two more to move out in front as La Liga’s top-scorer with 18.
Real Madrid’s victory was overshadowed by what looked like the recurrence of a calf problem for Bale that kept him out for a month earlier this season after he scored his 11th goal in eight games.
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