Barcelona reassured their fans that they had no worries without Lionel Messi when they thrashed arch-rivals Real Madrid 5-1 on Sunday in a highly entertaining El Clasico which will likely signal the end of Julen Lopeteguil as coach of Real.
Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring in the 11th minute following a slick team effort and Suarez doubled their advantage on the half-hour mark by converting an almost controversial penalty awarded after diligent consultation with the video assistant referee (VAR).
Real looked lifeless in the first half but produced a courageous display after the break following a tactical switch from the coach. They finally pulled a goal back through Marcelo and came close to grabbing an equalizer when Luka Modric struck the post and Sergio Ramos headed narrowly over.
The Catalans reaffirmed their authority and ran riot in the final 15 minutes with two more goals from Suarez, while a header from substitute Arturo Vidal further twisted ended Real’s hope of a comeback.
Los Blancos have lost their last three league games and are seven points behind Barca in the La Liga standings in ninth position.
Real lacked confidence from the start as Benzema hurriedly hammered a cross from Gareth Bale over the bar when he had plenty of time to bring the ball under control.
Barca, however, oozed belief and their opening goal was a joy to behold as Ivan Rakitic released Jordi Alba with a chipped pass and the Spaniard fired past Nacho, crossing freely into the area for Coutinho to get an opener from close range.
Real’s woes became evident when Nacho misplaced a pass in the area to the feet of Arthur Melo and it took a magnificent flying save from Thibaut Courtois to beat away the Brazilian’s curling shot.
Barca, on the other hand, extended their advantage when Suarez slammed spot-kick under the diving Courtois after being tripped by Varane, who was responsible for both goals Real conceded in their shock 2-1 home defeat by Levante last week.
Lopetegui reshuffled his formation at the start of the second half, opting for a back-three by hauling off Varane for Lucas Vazquez and his side instantly improved, getting a foothold through Marcelo’s strike.
They were painfully close to finding an equalizer but Barca continued to look dangerous on the break and Suarez’s bullet header from a standing position killed the game off as a contest.
The Uruguayan completed his treble with a classy chipped finish over Courtois while Vidal struck his first goal for Barca to further humiliate the boys from the capital, who were condemned to their worst defeat in a Clasico since a Barca side coached by Pep Guardiola beat them 5-0 in 2010.