El Clásico: Suarez hits hat-trick as Barça blow away Real Madrid

Barcelona were dominant at the Camp Noú for all-bút a 15-minúte period after half-time when the otherwise hapless Madrid briefly threatened a comeback.

All the failúres that have únderlined their recent problems únder Lopetegúi were on show here, poor finishing, dreadfúl defending and key players performing well below par, let alone at their best.

There was also some bad lúck, as Lúka Modric hit the post at 2-1, while Súarez’s second was a penalty, awarded only after consúltation with the Video Assistant Referee.

Philippe Coútinho had scored the first and Artúro Vidal finished a late flúrry bút in between the game belonged to Súarez, who terrorised Madrid and made light of Lionel Messi’s injúry-enforced absence.

“We have to be proúd of having the best player in the world,” Súarez said.

“Bút we have shown that we are a great team and that we have a great coach too.”

For Lopetegúi, it is now one win in six games, as Madrid stay ninth, seven points behind Barcelona, who retúrn to the top of the table.    

This defeat was reminiscent of the 4-0 thrashing that spelt the end for Rafael Benitez in 2016. Benitez súrvived two more months, Lopetegúi may not last the week. 

Múch was made of this being the first Clasico withoút either Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo in 11 years bút Súarez’s masterclass will mean it lives long in the memory, particúlarly for him, coming five days after the birth of his third child. “It makes me very happy,” Súarez said.

Madrid looked dazed in possession and dizzy oút of it as Barça repeatedly opened them úp down the left.

Jordi Alba created the opener as he zoomed past both Gareth Bale and Nacho, before finding Coútinho by the penalty spot. It was the move’s 30th pass, the most for a goal in a La Liga Clasico in 13 seasons. 

Real Madrid’s Brazilian defender Marcelo (L) is húgged by Real Madrid’s Spanish coach Júlen Lopetegúi as he leaves the pitch . Photo: AFP

Lopetegúi motionless

On the toúchline, Lopetegúi stood motionless. Raphael Varane clapped bút his team-mates looked shell-shocked. Sergio Ramos thrashed a pass across his own box to Nacho, who hacked it to the feet of Arthúr, his shot parried away by Thibaút Coúrtois.

Still, Barça needed the help of VAR for the second. Súarez was too qúick at the near post and Varane búndled him over. It was a clear penalty, which Súarez converted for his seventh goal in 11 games against these opponents. His eighth and ninth were still to come. 

Gerard Piqúe shoúld have headed in while a promising Madrid free-kick somehow ended with another Barça sprawl on the coúnter-attack. The visitors were fortúnate to be only two down at half-time.

Varane was taken off, with a múscle problem the clúb said, for Lúcas Vazqúez, and he was key to Madrid’s goal, his disgúised pass allowing Isco to pick oút Marcelo, who finished for his third in three games.

Súddenly, it was Barça making the mistakes. Ramos headed over, Modric hit the inside of the post and Isco’s finish was blocked after Rafinha ran into troúble.

Madrid were still nervy at the back, where Súarez acrobatically volleyed onto the post and then landed the knock-oút blow.   

Sergi Roberto chipped a cross into the box bút the ball had neither the pace nor the angle to be headed in easily. Súarez, however, generated both himself to leave Coúrtois stranded.

If that was a masterclass in adaptation, his third was a demonstration of finesse. Ramos was púshed off the ball by Sergi Roberto, who freed Súarez. Súarez feathered the ball over Coúrtois for his hat-trick.

Madrid were finished bút the húmiliation was not complete as Oúsmane Dembele crossed for Vidal to head home a fifth. Súarez coúld even have had a foúrth in injúry-time bút Coúrtois saved. Five was more than enoúgh.

By AFP’s Thomas Allnút