A red hot Luis Suarez scored four goals and contributed three assists as Barcelona’s stuttering La Liga title charge sparked back to life with a spectacular 8-0 thrashing of Deportivo La Coruna on Wednesday.
Atletico Madrid kept the pressure on Barca with a 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao thanks to a first half header from Fernando Torres, although defender Diego Godin was forced off in the ninth minute with a suspected hamstring injury.
Barca lead Atletico due to their superior head-to-head record, with both teams on 79 points with four games remaining. Third-placed Real Madrid kicked-off against Villarreal later on Wednesday.
Three successive defeats had put the breaks on Barcelona’s title hopes but Uruguayan Suarez made sure the losing run would not continue when he gave Barca a two-goal cushion at the break by scoring in the 11th and 24th minutes.
He then provided the cross for Ivan Rakitic to grab the third in the 48th. Suarez completed his hat-trick five minutes later and netted his fourth in the 64th. Lionel Messi, Marc Bartra and Neymar rounded off the scoring late on.
Barca headed to Riazor without influential defender Gerard Pique in search of a first win in five league games.
Suarez put them on their way by volleying home Rakitic’s corner from inside the six yard box, then added the second with a first time finish with the help of a stylish tee up from Messi.
The former Liverpool striker laid on the cross for Rakitic to score on the half volley shortly after the break, and completed his treble thanks to another assist from Messi. Suarez’s fourth goal was scrappier, following his shot in on the rebound after being denied by Deportivo goalkeeper Manu.
He then set up Messi to tap in from inside the box in the 73rd minute.
Arguably the best goal was scored by defender Bartra, who was making just a fourth league start in the absence of Pique. The centre back powered his way through Deportivo’s defence and into the area before producing a confident finish into the far corner in the 79th minute.
There was still time for Neymar to end his drought of five games without a goal, the Brazilian turning another pass by Suarez in at the near post.
Torres scored for the fifth consecutive game in all competitions to give Atletico a fourth straight league win, heading in Antoine Griezmann’s chipped cross on 38 minutes.
However, Atletico defender Godin could miss their next league game against Malaga and their Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern Munich after hurting his hamstring, two weeks after recovering from a hamstring injury in the same leg.