Suarez hat-trick lifts Barcelona
BARCELONA, Spain (AP):
Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick and Lionel Messi added two more goals as Barcelona made a superb start to their Spanish league title defence by routing Real Betis 6-2 yesterday.
Suarez, who led scoring in La Liga with 40 goals last season, helped to put the result beyond doubt before half-time and struck twice afterward to complete the demolition.
Even better for the Catalan club, Messi destroyed any hopes of title rivals that a difficult summer could have affected his game.
With the score at 1-1, Messi restored Barcelona's lead for good in the 37th minute with his first of two unstoppable strikes from the edge of the area. He was just as impressive as a playmaker, taking part in setting up three more goals.
Arda Turan had put Barcelona ahead before Real Betis striker Ruben Castro equalised with the first of two goals.
Barcelona's biggest title rivals play their opening matches today when Real Madrid visit Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid host the promoted Alaves.
For Suarez, the six-goal victory over Betis was a message that Barcelona is still the team to beat.
"Barca are always the favourites," Suarez said. "Today's game was to show why we have been the champions in recent seasons."