Madrid: FC Barcelona continued to heap pressure on first-placed Real Madrid by trouncing Elche 6-0 in La Liga action, a match that turned into a rout after Argentine star Lionel Messi's penalty goal and the expulsion of French midfielder Faycal Fajr early in the second half.
The Catalans played without Dani Alves, Luis Suarez, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets in their starting line-up Saturday night - just as they had nine days ago in Copa del Rey action at the Manuel Martinez Valero Stadium.
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique got a rare goal to open the scoring after receiving a pass from Xavi Hernandez, knocking the ball off defender Domingo Cisma and into the back of the net in the 35th minute.
That was all the scoring in the first half, but many more goals were to come over after the break.
A rapid counterattack led to a clear foul against Neymar in the area and a penalty shot that Messi converted in the 54th minute.
That score and the expulsion of Fajr a minute later for a second yellow card opened the floodgates, with Barcelona subsequently getting two goals from Neymar, a second from Messi and a sixth and final goal from Pedro in the waning moments of the match.
With the win, Barcelona remain in sole possession of second place in La Liga with 47 points after 20 games. Real Madrid have just one more point, although the Blancos, who eked out a 2-1 win Saturday over Cordoba, have also played one fewer game than their arch-rival.