Philippe Coutinho delivers Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi promise


Catalan nationalists have long been well organised and at Camp Nou they have always found a supportive crowd. This is a team game and it was a wonderful gesture.

Barca took a 4-1 lead into the half before adding two more scores.

But it was not.

Luis Suarez hit a hat-trick and Philippe Coutinho scored a brilliant first league goal for Barcelona as the La Liga leaders thrashed Girona 6-1 on Saturday to open up a 10-point lead at the top of the table.

Second-placed Atletico Madrid could narrow their points gap on Barca to seven if they beat Sevilla away this morning.

Before scoring himself, Lionel Messi played a through ball to Luis Suarez to net an equaliser for Barcelona for what was the Argentine star's 148th career assist in La Liga.

"I don't know if with that goal we woke up the beast", offered Girona boss Pablo Machin.

He scored again six minutes later. Benzema had snapped a run of almost three months without a league goal by scoring against Real Betis last weekend and was one of Real's best performers in their fifth consecutive win in all competitions.

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Messi took on three defenders to score, before rolling a free-kick under the wall for his second. Goalkeeper Bono was unsighted and the ball rolled past him.

Messi led Suarez into the box with a pretty through ball.

French winger Dembele played his part too late on as he crossed from the left for Suarez to complete a hat-trick.

Coutinho got in on the scoring act in the 66th minute with a trademark strike from distance that left Bono with no chance.

But, before the dust had settled on the shock opener to the game, Barcelona were soon level when Lionel Messi provided the flawless assist for Luis Suarez to score.

Girona's players were applauded by Barca fans for their efforts.

Ter Stegen had to be awake to make a late save in extra time, but it was ultimately a dismal display from Girona compared to the flawless performance from the league leaders who maintained their seven point lead at the top of the table.