Luis Suarez hat-trick seals Barcelona romp against Real Betis
By Lewis Dean
Last Updated: 20/08/16 11:57pm
Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick and Lionel Messi netted a double as Barcelona got their La Liga title defence off to the perfect start with a resounding 6-2 victory over over Real Betis at the Nou Camp.
Arda Turan gave the Catalans an early lead against Gus Poyet's side after he cooly finished a Jordi Alba pull-back in the sixth minute.
Ruben Castro then fired Betis level with a thunderous free-kick that Claudio Bravo - making what is thought to be his final performance for Barca before his anticipated move to Manchester City - was powerless to stop.
But from then it was the Suarez and Messi show as the deadly duo each scored braces that put the game well out of Betis' reach.
Castro scored a late consolation for the visitors but by then the damage had already well and truly been done.
Luis Enrique was without seven key players for the game including Javier Mascherano, Andres Iniesta, Jeremy Mathieu and Neymar, who is still in Braxil for the Olympics.
The absences hardly mattered though and it took Turan just six minutes to open the scoring with a tap-in after Lionel Messi found the advancing Jordi Alba on the left.
It looked like the Catalans would settle into their rhythm but they were stopped in their tracks by a stunning Ruben Castro free-kick Claudia Bravo got a hand to but was powerless to keep out.
It was the first league goal Barcelona had conceded since they lost 2-1 to Valencia on 17 April.
The scores remained level until the 37th minute when Messi got his first goal of the campaign with a trademark curling effort from outside after the impressive Sergio Roberto fed him from the right-hand flank.
Five minutes later Luis Suarez capped a terrific move down the right when he steered Roberto's pull-back into the far corner from about 15-yards out.
The Uruguayan had already been denied a penalty claim after tangling with Betis defender Aissa Mandi.
Barcelona - led by Suarez and Messi - then went into overdrive in the second-half and went 4-1 up when Suarez finished off an electric counter-attack that started when Sergio Busquets headed clear a Betis corner.
It ended with Turan, Messi and Suarez combining and the Uruguayan getting his second of the night by rolling the ball into an empty net.
Two minutes later Messi got his second of the evening with a left-footed drive from outside the area to make it 5-1 before Suarez struck home a curling free-kick for his hat-trick and Barcelona's sixth.
Incredibly, there was still still time for Castro to turn in a predatory finished for a late consolation before Betis 'keeper Antonio Adan foiled Ivan Rakitic and substitute Lucas Digne.