Messi inspires Barca goal blitz
Lionel Messi was once again Barcelona's inspiration as they underlined their title credentials by thumping Rayo Vallecano 5-0.
Last Updated: 27/10/12 11:32pm
Lionel Messi was once again Barcelona's inspiration as they underlined their Primera Division title credentials by thumping a game Rayo Vallecano outfit.
Messi scored twice to take his tally for the calendar year to a hardly believable 73 as Barca, who struggled to see off Celtic in the Champions League in midweek, ran riot at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas.
It was not as comfortable for the visitors as the comprehensive scoreline suggested, however, and it was Rayo who looked more likely to score before David Villa broke the deadlock in the 20th minute.
Messi grabbed the second just after the interval and three goals in the final 12 minutes - from Xavi, Cesc Fabregas and Messi again - flattered Tito Vilanova's men, who have picked up 25 points from an available 27 so far this season.
Vilanova said on Friday that he expected Rayo to come out firing so the home side's refusal to allow their opponents to settle early on cannot have come as a surprise.
The Catalan giants were being hurried in possession at every opportunity in the opening stages and as a consequence, the likes of Messi, Villa and Pedro Rodriguez were being starved of attention.
Yet despite being on the back foot, they showed their class by opening the scoring in the 20th minute.
Fabregas' perfectly-weighted through-ball split the defence and Villa stole in behind his marker to confidently slot past Rayo goalkeeper Ruben.
It was harsh luck for the hosts, who were beaten here 7-0 in the same fixture last term. And, although they refused to let their heads drop, the goal seemed to rejuvenate Barca.
Xavi's stinging strike brought a smart save out of Ruben while Messi had the Rayo keeper scampering with a free-kick across goal from a narrow angle.
To their credit, Rayo continued to see more of the ball but their one real chance of the half went begging when Andrija Delibasic shot straight at Barca keeper Victor Valdes.
It proved a costly miss when Martin Montoya, on the overlap, cut the ball back on the right to Messi on the edge of the area and the Argentinian steadied himself to fire past Ruben three minutes after the interval.
Rayo still were not prepared to fold and Valdes had to be alert to turn Alejandro Dominguez's strike round the post.
Barca's makeshift back four were being tested to their limit but there seemed to be no stopping the visitors on the attack.
Messi went through on goal but uncharacteristically fluffed a chip wide although it proved short respite as Xavi brilliantly slid past Ruben in the 79th minute following Jordi Alba's assist.
It was 4-0 81 seconds later when Pedro picked out Fabregas to finish from close range and Messi compounded Rayo's night a minute from time by bursting clear, rounding Ruben and slotting into an empty net.