Barca end 2019 top of La Liga as front 3 blitz Alavez

Barca end 2019 top of La Liga as front 3 blitz Alavez

Barcelona's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring a penalty during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona against Deportivo Alaves at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona. (AFP Photo)

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann were all on target in a convincing 4-1 home win over Alaves on Saturday to reach a combined 30 goals this season and ensure the champions will finish 2019 top of La Liga.

Griezmann put Barca ahead in the 14th minute with a wonderful first-time strike into the bottom corner from a Suarez cut-back and Arturo Vidal also knocked home a pass from the Uruguayan to round off a dominant first-half display.

Alaves midfielder Pere Pons pulled a goal back in the 56th minute with a diving header which briefly caused panic in the home side who were fortunate not to concede an equaliser.

But Messi eased their nerves with a magnificent curling strike from outside the box to restore Barca's two-goal cushion in the 69th and Suarez finally got on the scoresheet by converting from the penalty spot in the 75th.

Barca lead the standings on 39 points from 18 games, three clear of second-placed Real Madrid who hosts Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Sevilla are third on 34 after winning 2-0 at Real Mallorca.

After being unquestionably the second-best team in Wednesday's goalless draw with Real Madrid, Barca were under pressure to not only beat Alaves but also to produce an exciting display of attacking football.

They looked intent on doing exactly that, as Vidal fired their first warning shot with a bicycle kick which Fernando Pacheco had to tip away and Messi put the ball in the net but was narrowly ruled offside.

Coach Ernesto Valverde brought Sergio Busquets back into the team after he had missed the game with Real due to illness and he also brought in academy product Carles Alena, benching Ivan Rakitic and Frenkie de Jong.

The changes helped Barca boss possession as their opponents focused on sitting deep and trying to defend, a plan which fell apart once Griezmann scored.

Alaves showed more ambition after the interval and after Pons had pulled them back into contention, Barca looked vulnerable, with keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen losing the ball outside his box and scrambling to block a shot from Aleix Vidal.

Messi soon lifted the Catalans out of trouble, though, with his 50th goal of the year for club and country, while Suarez's penalty brought up 30 league goals this season for Barca's front three, who have now scored more times between them than 18 La Liga sides.

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