MADRID: A spectacular performance from Neymar ensured Barcelona didn’t miss the injured Lionel Messi as he scored four to help the European champions come from behind to beat Rayo Vallecano 5-2 on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
Real Madrid lead Barca on goal difference at the top of the table after Cristiano Ronaldo became the Spanish giants’ all-time leading scorer in a comfortable 3-0 win over Levante.
Javi Guerra had given Rayo a shock lead at the Camp Nou, but Neymar twice converted from the penalty spot after he had been brought down to give the hosts a half-time lead.
The Brazilian then struck twice in a minute after the break and teed up Luis Suarez to rifle home a fifth before Jozabed pulled a goal back for Rayo as Barca got back to winning ways after a 2-1 defeat at Sevilla last time out.
Villarreal can move top once more if they beat Celta Vigo on Sunday.
“I’m very happy for the victory and how we played. Everyone deserves congratulations,” Neymar told Canal Plus.
“It was very difficult, they have quality players that play their football. We struggled a bit, but we did our job.”
Ronaldo overtakes Raul
At the Santiago Bernabeu, Ro¬naldo struck his 324th goal for Madrid in just his 310th game in between strikes from Marcelo and Jese Rodriguez.
Real had to name a bench with seven academy graduates due to the absence of Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema through injury and coach Rafael Benitez was happy to secure a comfortable win in the circumstances.
“We had a bit of a handicap and to win 3-0 with some very good phases of the game for me is very positive,” said the former Liverpool manager.
The scale of Ronaldo’s latest record is exemplified by the fact he has played 431 fewer games for Madrid than previous record holder and club legend Raul, who earlier this week announced his decision to retire from football next month after a brief stint with the New York Cosmos.