Luis Suarez scores a hat-trick as Barcelona run riot
Lionel Messi also bagged a brace in a comfortable victory for the leaders.
Luis Suarez fired a hat-trick and Lionel Messi a brace as Barcelona ran riot in a 6-1 win against Girona to stay on course for their 25th LaLiga title.
Suarez and Messi both struck first-half doubles to take the game away from Girona, who paid for the impudence of taking a third-minute lead through Portu in their first visit to the Nou Camp.
Philippe Coutinho got in on the act in the second period with a brilliant fifth from 25 yards – his first LaLiga goal – before Suarez, who also hit a post, completed his hat-trick.
Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde had hinted at changes, but Messi and Suarez both started, while Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele replaced Paulinho and Andres Iniesta.
Pere Pons, Pablo Maffeo and Anthony Lozano all returned to Girona’s starting line-up.
Portu gave Girona a dream start, robbing Samuel Umtiti on the edge of the penalty area and scoring from a tight angle after goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen had raced off his line.
Messi’s slide-rule pass set up Suarez to rifle home an angled equaliser two minutes later and the Argentinian’s free-kick was brilliantly saved by Bono shortly afterwards.
Girona defender Bernardo’s brilliant headed clearance denied Messi and Bono then did well to keep out Suarez’s shot as Barca hit the groove.
Messi fired home his first after taking Suarez’s pass and cutting inside when it seemed the chance had been lost and seven minutes later he drilled a low free-kick beneath the wall to leave Bono stranded.
It was Messi’s 371st league goal in just 407 appearances for the club.
Suarez then finished off a sweeping counter-attack involving Messi and Coutinho from five yards to make it 4-1 just before the interval.
Girona won automatic promotion last May and nine LaLiga wins this season had lifted them up to ninth in the table heading into the match, but the gulf in class between them and their hosts was marked.
Suarez crashed a shot against a post early in the second half and Bono’s save denied Messi his hat-trick before Coutinho showcased his talents with a superb curling effort to put Barcelona 5-1 ahead in the 66th minute.
Bono denied Messi again with a flying save to turn away the Argentinian’s free-kick, but an inevitable sixth goal duly arrived in the 76th minute.
Ivan Rakitic set Dembele away down the right and his sweeping cross was turned home by Suarez for his 20th goal in 22 league outings this season.
Substitute Thomas Vermaelen’s header was pushed onto the crossbar by Bono and in a rare foray forward for Girona, Ter Stegen showed excellent concentration to keep out a late shot from Aleix Garcia.
Barca have opened up a 10-point gap at the top of the table, with second-placed Atletico Madrid playing at Sevilla on Sunday.