Football

Enrique hails Barcelona's 'best first half of the season'

Luis Enrique hailed Barcelona's "best first-half performance of the season" as they kept the pressure on La Liga leaders Real Madrid by swatting aside Sevilla yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Sevilla themselves had been in the title race a month ago but their winless league run reached five games after they were beaten 3-0 and had attacker Vitolo sent off in stoppage time.

Luis Suarez scored an overhead kick in the 25th minute before Lionel Messi netted twice in the next eight minutes to help Barca record a ninth win in 10 league games.

The Catalan giants remain two points behind Real Madrid, who also won, and their ruthless display left their outgoing manager Enrique thrilled.

"Probably we have put in the best first-half performance of the season," said Enrique, who will take a year-long sabbatical after the season.

The Barca boss also praised Suarez, saying: "(He is) the best centre forward in the world."

When asked about his goal, Suarez said: "The ball was coming towards me and it was the only way of getting it in."

Real Madrid maintained their two-point lead over Barca at the top of La Liga by making light of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale's absence in a 4-2 win at Leganes.

Los Blancos have a game in hand over their Catalan rivals.

Real boss Zinedine Zidane gambled on the strength of his squad ahead of a mammoth 18 days which sees the European champions welcome Atletico Madrid and Barcelona to the Santiago Bernabeu, while a Champions League quarter-final against old foes Bayern Munich also awaits.

However, the Frenchman was rewarded as the likes of Marco Asensio, James Rodriguez and Morata took their chance to shine. Morata bagged a hat-trick, Rodriguez scored one while Asensio too starred.

"It is not taking a risk, I have a great squad," said Zidane.

"I am always asked about the reserves and the starters, but we are all in the same boat.

"We are doing great things together, but we still have a long way to go and we will need every player." - WIRE SERVICES

 

barcelonaSevilla FCla liga