No Messi, no problem.
Barcelona beat bitter rivals Real Madrid 5-1 at the Nou Camp on Sunday in the latest edition of El Clasico.
[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]
Philippe Coutinho grabbed the opener and Luis Suarez scored a hat trick to do the damage with Arturo Vidal adding a late goal, as the first El Clasico since 2007 without either Lionel Messi (injured) or Cristiano Ronaldo (sold in the summer to Juventus) turned out to be a routine win for Barca.
Real fought back in the second half but Marcelo’s goal wasn’t enough to stop their rot, with Karim Benzema guilty of missing a gilt-edged chance to make it 2-2.
With the victory Barcelona have moved back to the top of La Liga, while Real Madrid’s woes continue as Julen Lopetegui has now lost five of his last seven games in all competitions with just one win in that sequence. Real have now lost three-straight games in La Liga.
Barcelona led 2-0 at the break, as Coutinho opened the scoring. Jordi Alba’s fine run down the left caught out Real’s defense and his cross put the ball on a plate for Coutinho to slot home to make it 1-0.
Then came some El Clasico history on the half hour mark.
Suarez went down in the box after being clipped by Raphael Varane and after using VAR for the first time in El Clasico history, the officials awarded a penalty kick which Suarez dispatched just past Thibaut Courtois to make it 2-0.
After the break Real came flying out of the traps after a tactical switch saw them move into a 3-5-2 formation with Lucas Vazquez on and Varane removed. Soon, it was 2-1.
Marcelo controlled and finished with his right foot to give Real hope of mounting a comeback. And they came so close to making it 2-2 as Luka Modric sent an effort off the post which rolled across the line and out.
Barca almost went 3-1 up as Sergi Roberto found Suarez but his effort smacked the post.
Late on Benzema headed over a glorious chance from close range after a fine cross from Vazquez as Real continued to knock at the door.
But it was Suarez who delivered his second and Barcelona’s third, with the Uruguayan scoring a sublime header to make it 3-1 and end any hope of a Real comeback.
Suarez then secured his hat trick with a cheeky chip over Courtois to score his ninth goal in nine La Liga games against Real Madrid. And Vidal made it 5-1 late on as Real totally fell apart and Lopetegui’s future will surely be in huge doubt just a few months after taking over.