Brazilian Neymar assured Barcelonians that Messi’s absence won’t be heavily felt as he produced a spectacular performance to ensure that Barcelona did not miss the injured Lionel Messi, scoring four to help the European champions come from behind to beat Rayo Vallecano 5-2 on Saturday.
Javi Guerra had given Rayo a shock lead at the Camp Nou, but Neymar twice converted from the penalty spot after he had been brought down to give the hosts a half-time lead. The Brazilian then struck twice in a minute after the break and teed up Luis Suarez to rifle home a fifth before Jozabed pulled a goal back for Rayo as Barça got back to winning ways after a 2-1 defeat at Sevilla last time out.
Although Real Madrid lead Barça on goal difference at the top of the table after Cristiano Ronaldo became the Spanish giants’ all-time leading scorer in a comfortable 3-0 win over Levante earlier on Saturday.
At the Santiago Bernabeu, Ronaldo struck his 324th goal for Madrid in just his 310th game in between strikes from Marcelo and Jese Rodriguez.
Real had to name a bench with seven academy graduates due to the absence of Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema through injury and coach Rafael Benitez was happy to secure a comfortable win in the circumstances.
Elsewhere, Valencia got their season back on track with a comfortable 3-0 win over Malaga. Los Che are now level with Espanyol in seventh after they won 3-1 at Real Betis. Sevilla remain in the bottom half of the table as they could only manage a 1-1 draw at sixth-placed Eibar.