In the first El Clasico in 11 years without both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, somebody was going to have to step up big to earn either team the victory. Somebody always does.
This time it was Luis Suarez, and it wasn't even close. The Uruguayan star scored a hat trick and Barcelona crushed Real Madrid 5-1 on Sunday at the Camp Nou. In a performance that could mean the end of Julen Lopetegui's tenure as Real's coach, the hosts dominated from start to finish, making the away team's backline look like that of an amateur side.
Without Messi due to his arm fracture, Barca's win was never really in doubt. Real, without Cristiano Ronaldo following his move to Juventus in the summer, continued to look nothing like its usual self.
And it didn't take long to see scoring, as Philippe Coutinho got the opener with 11 minutes in:
Then Suarez got his first after being fouled by Raphael Varane in the box. VAR confirmed the foul, and he put the penalty past Thibaut Courtois 30 minutes in:
Real managed to get one back from Marcelo 50 minutes in to make it 2-1, but that was as close as Los Blancos would get.
Suarez got his second 75 minutes in with this fine header to make it 3-1, and that would prove to be more than enough:
But Suarez wasn't done. After the birth of his son in recent days, and sporting a shirt with a photo of his three kids, he got his third goal. He pulled off the best goal on the night in stunning fashion, as Sergi Roberto stole the ball from Sergio Ramos, and sent Suarez through. Marching on goal, Suarez lifted the ball over the goalkeeper:
Arturo Vidal would add Barca's fifth in the final minutes, as Real heads home with a result that may bring a lot of changes. The loss in El Clasico was the latest unwanted result in a rough start to the season.
Barca had eight shots on target to Real's four, and Lopetegui's team appears to be missing Ronaldo more and more each game. The win keeps Barca in first place in La Liga, while Real is ninth and seven points back.
Real has won just one of its last seven games, scoring four goals in the process.
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