Benzema helps Madrid beat Alaves 3-0, increase lead in Spain

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique believes Neymar's sensational return of 100 goals in less than four seasons shows he made the right decision in joining the Catalan giants. "The game became complicated with their equaliser in their only chance of the game but we managed to turn it around quickly and get a big scoreline which I think is a fair result".

The score hints at a routine victory for Luis Enrique's side, but they were pushed all the way by the home side who had a chance of claiming something from the match until the sending off of Uche Agbo with just 10 minutes left to play.

Fully rested after the worldwide break and a yellow-card suspension, Messi returns to Barcelona's team for the decisive Spanish league match against Sevilla on Wednesday.

Barcelona hold the second position in the La Liga with 63 points, two points behind league leaders Real Madrid, while Granada are in the penultimate place with only 19 points.

But Real Madrid have also been credited with an interest, and have him as their second choice behind Chelsea's Eden Hazard as their new Galactico.

However, the Catalans regrouped and were back in front 14 minutes later when Suarez released Alcacer with a lofted pass and the Spaniard beat Ochoa at his near post.

Seconds later Barca make the game safe when Ivan Rakitic drilled into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

Suarez chipped Barcelona into the lead at the end of a first half that had also seen him hit the crossbar and have four other shots saved by Guillermo Ochoa in an enthralling battle.

He reprised a familiar theme of criticising Real Madrid this week, after comments by himself and Blancos captain Sergio Ramos on perceived refereeing injustices dominated the build up to them uniting for worldwide duty.

But in its first match since a long global break, Madrid faded in the second half and Alaves threatened to snatch a draw. "We know that that is what we have and at any moment we can hurt our rivals". Defender Nacho Fernandez then headed in the rebound after Gareth Bale's free kick came off the bar.

Earlier, Sevilla's slump continued as they were held 0-0 at home by Sporting Gijon to remain in fourth behind Atletico Madrid due to an inferior head-to-head record.

A headed own-goal from Raul Albentosa doubled the hosts' advantage around the half-hour mark, and substitute Joao Cancelo struck a third in stoppage time.

  • Julie Sanders