Suarez, Paulinho move Barca 11 clear of Real

Monday, December 18, 2017

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MADRID, Spain (AFP) — Barcelona opened up an 11-point La Liga lead over Real Madrid ahead of next weekend's El Clasico between the Spanish giants as Luis Suarez and Paulinho each scored twice in a 4-0 thrashing of Deportivo la Coruna yesterday.

Lionel Messi also saw a penalty saved and hit the woodwork three times as Barca regained their six-point lead over Atletico Madrid in second place.

Real remain down in fourth, but do have a game in hand on their rivals as they missed out on La Liga action this weekend to win the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

The only drawback for Barca, as they extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 24 games since they were beaten by Real on their last visit to the Santiago Bernabeu in the Spanish Super Cup back in August, was a muscle injury to Paco Alcacer that will keep the forward out for three weeks.

Messi paraded his fourth golden boot award for being the leading scorer in Europe last season before kick-off and could barely believe his luck as he failed to add to his 18 goals already this term.

However, the Argentine still had a huge role to play in three of Barca's four goals.

Earlier, Villarreal bounced back from three straight defeats as Pablo Fornals grabbed the only goal in a 1-0 win at Celta Vigo.

Victory allowed Villarreal to leapfrog back above Girona into sixth after the Catalans had edged the battle of the high-flying newly promoted sides over Getafe 1-0 thanks to Cristhian Stuani's early goal.

Managerless Las Palmas struck twice in the last 10 minutes to snatch a 2-2 draw with Espanyol, but remain rooted to the foot of the table.

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