Barcelona star Luis Suarez surpassed Ladislau Kubala for third spot on the club's all-time goalscoring list.

Suarez leapfrogged Kubala with his 195th Barca goal from 278 appearances in Wednesday's 1-0 win over LaLiga rivals Espanyol.

The 33-year-old forward broke the deadlock in the 56th minute to move Barca within a point of leaders Real Madrid, while relegating Espanyol.

Suarez already eclipsed Josep Samitier's 184-goal haul in October, with only two players above him – superstar captain Lionel Messi (630) and Cesar (232).

Since arriving from Premier League giants Liverpool in 2014, Suarez has flourished and even contributed 97 assists for Barca.

Suarez has won four LaLiga titles, the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup among other honours at Camp Nou.

Luis Suarez said Barcelona must be ready if LaLiga leaders Real Madrid drop points as the title race nears its conclusion.

Two-time defending champions Barca kept their slim title hopes alive with a 1-0 victory over rivals Espanyol on Wednesday.

Suarez scored the only goal of the match in the 56th minute to relegate Espanyol midweek, while moving Barca to within a point of Madrid.

Madrid can restore their four-point advantage against Deportivo Alaves on Friday and while Barca only have three games remaining, star forward Suarez insisted the Catalan giants have to be ready to pounce on any slip-ups.

"What we have to do is win our next three games," Suarez, who moved third on Barca's list of all-time scorers, said afterwards. "Whatever Madrid do is up to them.

"If the rival drops points then fantastic, we have to think about being there if they do."

Barca were far from their best at Camp Nou, where substitute Ansu Fati was sent off after coming on at the start of the second half, while Espanyol's Pol Lozano was also dismissed.

But Barca managed to extend their unbeaten run to nine games following back-to-back triumphs.

Suarez added: "We knew it was going to be difficult. We knew their situation. We have to be aware of the fact that we put in a great performance on Sunday and were still feeling the consequences of that physically. The important thing is to win and to get three more points.

"I think if I didn't score in the first half or Barcelona didn't create more chances, that's virtue of the rival, who were very well organised.

"I think they make it difficult for Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba to push up on the flanks. But eventually the chance came and I'm delighted to be able to take it.

"I didn't see Ansu Fati's [red card] because there was a player in the way and the other one I didn't see either, there was another rival blocking my view.

"But in both cases VAR – which is there to help in these kind of situations – was able to help the referee to take the right decisions."

After his goalscoring display in the 4-1 rout of Villarreal on Sunday, Antoine Griezmann was handed another start alongside Suarez and Lionel Messi.

"It's the manager who takes the decision," Suarez said. "He wanted to find a formula, it's the formula he's trying at the moment. It's the first year of Antoine here so we know it's difficult – the adaptation period. The other day we could all enjoy a brilliant performance from Antoine Griezmann."

Espanyol knew anything but a derby victory at Camp Nou on Wednesday would relegate them to the second tier for the first time since 1994 but they were unable to preserve their top-flight status.

"I think today's match I'm proud of my team-mates, we had chances," Javi Lopez said. "If I'm here now it's to ask for forgiveness from our fans because we know these are tough moments for us but also for our fans. It's been a season in which nothing has gone right for us.

"I thank the fans but apologise again because it's the players' fault. We apologise again and tell them we are committed to coming back stronger and will fight for this club badge. That's all I've got to say – sorry to the fans, that's the minimum we can do.

"I think we all assume the responsibility in the changing room. We're most responsible for this. The players are out on the pitch and the ones who fault it is. These are really tough moments for all of us. We just have to be absolutely committed to come back stronger than ever before. I'm convinced that we will."

Luis Suarez's second-half strike consigned Barcelona's rivals Espanyol to a 1-0 defeat and relegation from LaLiga in a match that saw two red cards.

Espanyol knew anything but a derby victory at Camp Nou on Wednesday would relegate them to the second tier for the first time since 1994.

They were given hope when substitute Ansu Fati was sent off five minutes after coming on at the start of the second half, only for the numbers to be swiftly evened up when Pol Lozano was also dismissed.

Suarez capped off a crazy six-minute passage by scoring the only goal as Barca moved a point behind leaders Real Madrid, who have a game in hand, in the title race.

In an all-or-nothing game for Espanyol, they were the better side in the first half, while Barca failed to have a single shot on target.

Adrian Embarba was the first to test Marc-Andre ter Stegen when he got in down the right, only for the German goalkeeper to thwart his effort with an outstretched right foot.

Espanyol continued to have joy on the counter attack and after Ter Stegen prevented a Clement Lenglet own goal, Didac Vila's effort hit the outside of the post just before half-time.

Quique Setien hoped Fati's half-time introduction would have an impact on his team and it certainly did, though not how he had imagined.

Five minutes after coming on the teenager was heading off again, a VAR review upgrading his caution to a red card as he was punished when a high right foot caught Fernando Calero.

However, Espanyol's one-man advantage lasted only three minutes, as Lozano joined Fati in being dismissed.

As was the case in Fati's instance, Lozano was initially awarded a yellow card that was changed to a red as replays showed he caught Gerard Pique on the shin when going over the top of the ball.

And it was Barcelona who adjusted better to going a man down as Suarez soon put them ahead, following up when Lionel Messi's effort was blocked after a brilliant Antoine Griezmann flick.

A vicious Messi volley was superbly saved by Diego Lopez and Espanyol could not muster an equaliser, let alone the two goals they needed, as their fate was sealed.

 

What does it mean? Espanyol go down with a fight

Espanyol have looked doomed for months, but they at least showed plenty of fight, even if it was a case of too little, too late.

It might be too late for Barca in the title race too with just three games to play, though Setien will at least be encouraged by Griezmann, Messi and Suarez's role in their goal ahead of the Champions League resumption next month.

Griezi on the eye again

A lovely goal at Villarreal last time out suggested Griezmann may finally be finding his feet at Camp Nou, and he had an instrumental role in the winner here too.

Though he will not be credited with either a goal or an assist, his vision to initially tee up Messi was fantastic.

Youthful naivety from Lozano

Fati deserves criticism for raising his foot way too high to prompt his red card, but Lozano had to be smarter when he was dismissed moments later in his first LaLiga start.

To rush into a challenge with Pique in midfield was ill-judged and Espanyol barely had any opportunity to make use of their one-man advantage as a result.

What's next?

Barcelona travel to Real Valladolid next on Saturday while their city rivals host Eibar the following day in their penultimate top-flight home game.

Barcelona reached 9,000 goals in all official competitions following their 4-1 rout of Villarreal in LaLiga on Sunday.

Barca celebrated the milestone thanks to teenage sensation Ansu Fati, who came off the bench and scored the team's fourth goal away to Villarreal.

The two-time reigning LaLiga champions, who are four points behind bitter rivals Real Madrid with four matches remaining, netted their first official goal in April 1909.

Just over 111 years later, Barca have scored their 9,000th goal – superstar captain and six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi contributing 630.

Of Barca's overall tally, 6,165 goals have been scored in LaLiga, followed by the Copa del Rey (1,474) and the Champions League (543).

Antoine Griezmann ended his goal drought with a stunning finish and Lionel Messi tormented Villarreal as Barcelona cruised to a 4-1 LaLiga victory on Sunday.

Barca's grip on the title had slipped with back-to-back draws and bitter rivals Real Madrid moved seven points clear at the top with a win at Athletic Bilbao earlier in the day, but the champions responded at Estadio de la Ceramica.

An early Pau Torres own goal put Barca in front and the mercurial Messi set up sensational strikes from Luis Suarez and Griezmann after the in-form Gerard Moreno equalised, with Ansu Fati adding a fourth late on.

Griezmann had gone eight games without a goal, but silenced his critics with a moment of class in a breathtaking attacking display from Barca, with Messi – who had a goal disallowed and hit the crossbar – starring at the end of a week in which his future has been the subject of more speculation.

Previously in-form Villarreal have still not beaten the Catalan giants since 2008 and their first defeat since the season restarted is a blow to their bid for a Champions League spot.

Barca made a blistering start and they were rewarded when Torres turned the ball into his own net just three minutes in with Griezmann waiting to pounce on Jordi Alba's cross behind him.

The Blaugrana were causing the home side all sorts of problems going forward but looked vulnerable on the break and Moreno levelled clinically against the run of play with 14 minutes played after Marc-Andre ter Stegen palmed away Santi Cazorla's strike.

Barca wasted little time in regaining the lead, though, Messi running from just inside the Villarreal half and beating two players before finding Suarez, who picked out the far corner with a sublime first-time finish from the edge of the penalty area.

Arturo Vidal and Suarez came close before Griezmann added a third just before half-time, lobbing Sergio Asenjo with a superb effort after Messi set him up with a cheeky backheel following another penetrating run.

The busy Asenjo denied Suarez and Vidal after the break and Messi had a goal chalked off after VAR ruled he had been offside before tucking in Sergi Roberto's cutback.

Fati came off the bench to put the icing on the cake, cutting in from the left to fire home and Messi rattled the crossbar with a free-kick before Asenjo superbly saved Martin Braithwaite's header following up.

  

What does it mean? Relief for Setien

Barca boss Quique Setien has come under fire, but his players appear to be behind him on the evidence of this performance.

On a day when it was revealed Xavi, linked with the Barca hotseat, will stay at Al-Sadd, the defending champions showed they will not give up their title without a fight with four games to play.

Messi magic, Griezmann shows his class

Griezmann has had a tough first season at Barca, but he showed what he is capable of with the finish of a player who is anything but short of confidence.

It was Messi who was the star of the show, though, yet again, slipping away from defenders with ease and laying on two goals with sheer brilliance and not looking like a man eager to leave Camp Nou.

Semedo all at sea

Barca full-back Nelson Semedo looked vulnerable defensively in the first half and was hooked off early in the second. Setien's men were too open at the back in the first half and Semedo was caught out too often.

What's next?

Barca host lowly Espanyol in a derby clash on Wednesday, with Villarreal facing a tricky trip to sixth-placed Getafe on the same evening.

Quique Setien felt Barcelona lacked a cutting edge, as well as a bit of luck, following the 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo - leaving them with "little margin for error" in the LaLiga title race.

Luis Suarez scored a brace but Barca were twice unable to hold onto a lead on Saturday, despite dominating for long periods of the game. 

They were impressive in the first half in particular, youngster Riqui Puig catching the eye on his first league start of the season, but only led 1-0 at the break. 

Setien felt the performance in the first 45 minutes deserved more with Barca denied by the woodwork when a Gerard Pique header hit the crossbar prior to Suarez's opener in the 20th minute.

"They took a lot of risks in the last few minutes and they found a goal that gave them a point," Setien told the media. 

"We should not have got into that situation because we were much the better team in the first half.  We had to have gone in at the break with a more comfortable scoreline. 

"We're not in that moment of clarity. 

"We did a lot of things well. It should have been a more comfortable game. 

"We definitely lack conviction to turn our play into goals. The superiority we had in the first half was enough to have won the match and gone into [the second] more relaxed. 

"We're finding it difficult. Scoring is sometimes a question of luck." 

Iago Aspas' late free-kick denied Barcelona victory on the road. While the point picked up is enough to take them top for now, Real Madrid have the opportunity to leapfrog them when they face Espanyol on Saturday.

Zinedine Zidane's squad also have the added cushion of owning the better head-to-head record against their rivals this season.

Setien acknowledges that Barca may now require help from others if they are to retain their crown in Spain.

"We've got little margin for error now and, in theory, we have to win all our games and hope our rival slips up," he admitted. "We'll try to keep picking up maximum points."

Next up for Setien and his players is Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou on Tuesday.

Luis Suarez admitted Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo left a bitter taste as there was a potentially crucial twist in the LaLiga title race on Saturday.

Barca led twice but were pegged back on both occasions, Celta grabbing an 88th-minute equaliser through captain Iago Aspas' free-kick.

Suarez scored both goals for the visitors, ending a personal drought that stretched back to early January before he suffered a knee injury, but was left frustrated by the team's failure to see out the win.

While Quique Setien's side moved back top of the table courtesy of the point picked up on their travels, Real Madrid have the chance to leapfrog over them again if they avoid defeat at rock-bottom Espanyol on Sunday.

Zinedine Zidane's side also hold the head-to-head advantage over the reigning champions, having picked up four points from the two Clasico meetings in 2019-20.

"It was a vital match to fight for the title," Suarez admitted in his post-match interview for LaLiga TV.

"We had a good first half, creating chances, but in the second half it was different, Celta wanting to be more aggressive.

"It [the result] leaves a bitter taste, one of sadness and frustration because we have lost two points."

Lionel Messi set up both goals for Suarez, the first of which saw him head in a clever free-kick from close range after Celta had put players on the line to protect against a direct shot.

The Uruguayan striker found the net again in the 67th minute following Fedor Smolov's leveller earlier in the second half, albeit his brace was not enough.

Barca, who next face Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, have now won just once in their last four away games in the league.

"For my part, I am happy to help with both goals, but you are angry because things have to be corrected," Suarez added.

"This was a complicated away game, as will be the trip to Villarreal. Then, in between, we host Atletico."

Barcelona's hopes of winning LaLiga for a third successive season suffered a blow as they were held to a 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo – handing Real Madrid a huge boost in the title race. 

Luis Suarez scored a brace – both of his goals assisted by Lionel Messi – as Barca twice held the lead on the road on Saturday.

However, after Fedor Smolov had equalised earlier in the second half, Iago Aspas curled in an 88th-minute free-kick to bring Celta level again in a see-saw contest in Galicia.

The hosts missed a golden opportunity to snatch victory in the closing minutes too, Nolito shooting straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen after being set up Denis Suarez.

While the result is good enough to move Barca a point clear at the summit, Madrid – who hold the head-to-head edge over their rivals – can retake top spot so long as they avoid defeat at Espanyol on Sunday.

Martin Braithwaite is hoping to answer Barcelona's SOS with goals that carry Quique Setien's team all the way to trophy glory after opening his account.

The Danish striker played his first full 90 minutes in LaLiga since joining from Leganes as an emergency signing in February, as Barcelona thrashed Real Mallorca 4-0 on Saturday night.

It was his fourth appearance and second start in the league since swapping a relegation battle for the title race.

And the man Barca bought to ease their injury problems intends to show how much he can contribute over the remaining weeks of the coronavirus-disrupted season.

He may have his work cut out to secure a regular start, given Luis Suarez returned from knee surgery as a substitute at Mallorca.

But Braithwaite wants to play a part and said of his maiden Barca strike: "I've been waiting for it for a long time, so it's amazing to score my first goal.

"It was most important to start like we did [on Saturday], so we are happy and we have to continue like this.

"As an offensive player you want to score goals and I've been working a lot in this break, and I've been really looking forward to playing this game and hopefully getting a goal and I'm happy, I'm really happy."

Suarez's season looked to be over when he had an operation in January, but the three-month suspension of the league has allowed him to recover fitness, and now coach Setien has options up front for the title push.

The Uruguayan had a 33-minute run-out at Son Moix, and Braithwaite can expect to come under pressure for a regular start.

Barcelona's win in their first match back after lockdown restrictions were eased ensured they would remain top of the table.

Braithwaite said of the successful trip, speaking to Barca TV: "It's really important because we have to start with confidence, and to score four goals and not concede any goals is really important for us.

"We started good and just built our confidence and we need that to continue pursuing what we want."

After Arturo Vidal's early opener, Lionel Messi set up Braithwaite and Jordi Alba before sealing Barca's victory in additional time.

Barcelona have 10 games left in the LaLiga season as they attempt to fend off Real Madrid and wrap up what would be a 27th league title.

Quique Setien was "very pleased" with Barcelona's form as they returned to action with a 4-0 win over Real Mallorca on Saturday.

After Arturo Vidal's opener, Lionel Messi set up Martin Braithwaite and Jordi Alba before sealing Barca's victory in additional time.

Although Real Madrid have a game in hand, Barcelona are five points clear, having made a bright return following a break of more than three months from competitive action due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Setien liked what he saw from his side, who have 10 games left in the LaLiga season.

"The feelings are good. There are always things that you want to improve, but I am satisfied with the game we have made," he told reporters.

"We have had an effectiveness … but we were fine with the ball. We have had a break, but I am very satisfied.

"To be the first game without playing, we could be accused of a lack of rhythm, but I think it is a good start to face this sprint that we have 10 games left. I have good feelings in general."

Luis Suarez played his first game since January, coming off the bench in the second half to return from a knee injury.

Setien was pleased with the Uruguayan forward, who set up Messi's sealer after replacing Antoine Griezmann.

"Everything he has done, he has done well. He had quality actions," he said.

"Surely we will see how he is improving, but he has been spectacular."

Barcelona are next in action on Tuesday, hosting Leganes.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are ready to start for Barcelona against Real Mallorca, head coach Quique Setien has confirmed.

Barca return to LaLiga action on Saturday with a trip to Son Moix following the coronavirus-enforced break, and a win over relegation-threatened opponents will see them extend their lead at the summit.

Spain's reigning champions sit two points clear of rivals Real Madrid, who are not in action until Sunday when they host Eibar in the capital.

Messi's fitness was a major concern ahead of the resumption - the talismanic forward dealing with a quadriceps injury - but he has suffered no further setbacks since returning to training with the rest of the squad at the start of the week.

"He's ready to play, he's perfectly okay. He's trained well, there is no problem," Setien said as his pre-match media conference.

"Messi and a lot of these players know how to gauge things and how to save their strength when necessary.

"As for breaks, we'll see. For some, the more time they're on the pitch, the better."

As for Suarez, the striker had seemingly been set to miss the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign with a knee injury before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now the Uruguay international is back for the rearranged season run-in, both in terms of domestic duties and the Champions League.

However, Setien will be cautious with a player who is returning from a lengthy lay-off, meaning Suarez will not play the whole game against Mallorca.

"Surely he is to be a starter, but not for the full 90 minutes," the Barca boss explained.

"We will not take risks after five months. It will be good for him to play and he will need games to be the same as he was before."

Suarez has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season but has not featured since January 9.

Former Barcelona and Inter forward Samuel Eto'o praised Lautaro Martinez, but said Luis Suarez deserved more respect for his contributions.

Martinez, 22, has been heavily linked with a move to the LaLiga giants, with the Inter forward regarded as a long-term replacement for Suarez.

Now 33, Suarez arrived at Camp Nou from Liverpool in 2014, and has won four LaLiga titles and a Champions League with the club.

Eto'o, who spent five seasons at Barca and two at Inter during his playing career, said while Martinez was talented, Suarez's efforts could not be ignored.

"I love Suarez, he's one of the best in the world in his position," the former Cameroon international told Catalunya Radio on Wednesday.

"Barca always have to strengthen, but they don't need to stand down a general like Luis Suarez. In his position, he's a general and you cannot compare him with anyone.

"Lautaro is doing really well with Inter and has a future, but people have a tendency to forget recent history and Luis is writing history, not just at Barca, but in football. That has to be recognised.

"That doesn't impede bringing in another player to add competition to the group, knowing how many games Barca have, but a little respect for those that have written history."

Suarez had scored 14 goals and provided 10 assists in 23 games before this season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Martinez, meanwhile, had 16 goals in 31 games for Inter, while providing two assists.

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien said he did not have "any doubts" over Lionel Messi's fitness as the superstar captain prepares to face Real Mallorca.

Messi returned to group training on Monday following concerns over a quadriceps injury that forced the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to train away from the squad.

LaLiga resumes on Thursday following a three-month break enforced by the coronavirus pandemic, with leaders Barca – two points clear of Real Madrid through 27 game – visiting Mallorca on Saturday.

Messi is set to face Mallorca after Setien told Catalunya Radio: "We didn't have any doubts over his availability against Mallorca.

"There have also been others with [injury] problems. He stopped [training] out of precaution."

Meanwhile, Luis Suarez has been declared fit to play for Barca in their final 11 matches of the 2019-20 season after recovering from the knee operation he underwent in January.

Suarez had surgery on the external meniscus of his right knee at the start of the year, having reportedly struggled with the issue for several months at that point.

Setien, however, is unsure whether the 33-year-old Uruguay international forward will start away to Mallorca.

"It's something that we have to talk about," Setien said. "I'm sure he could play from the start. It would be hasty for him to play the whole match. We don't know if he'll play from start to finish.

"He's doing very well, but we have to avoid putting him at risk. Any [injury] problem makes you miss three or four matches, which would be very damaging."

Setien added: "He's an extraordinary player. He has some qualities that any team would want.

"He's very active, he puts a lot of pressure on opponents and defences, his movement is good and he has great effectiveness. He's a great addition, without doubt."

Lionel Messi inspires his team-mates and has personally helped Martin Braithwaite, who is also thrilled at the prospect of playing with Luis Suarez even if it means first-team opportunities are harder to come by.

Braithwaite joined Barca in February after the club were granted special dispensation to sign a player outside of the transfer window, as Suarez and Ousmane Dembele had suffered long-term injuries.

Although many questioned why Barca were allowed to make such a signing given they had let two young forwards depart in January, Braithwaite joined and made a positive start prior to the coronavirus-enforced suspension.

The three-month pause, which will stop this week when LaLiga resumes, has allowed for Suarez to recover from his knee injury and be declared fit.

And although Suarez's presence will likely impact on Braithwaite's match time, the Denmark international is relishing learning from him, as he has from Messi.

Speaking to Goal about how his opinion of Messi had been altered after playing with him, the former Leganes forward said: "It changes a lot, of course.

"He gives so much confidence to the team because he can make the difference and also helped me personally to be a better player with his advice and how he sees football.

"He is really an inspiration."

With respect to Suarez's return potentially restricting his own time on the pitch, Braithwaite added: "Honestly, I don't think in that kind of way.

"I am so happy that Luis is back because when I came here he was injured and I haven't played with him.

"I want to learn from him, he is one of the best strikers in the world and I am happy he is back."

Barca, who are two points clear of Real Madrid ahead of the resumption, get their season back under way on Saturday away to Real Mallorca.

Ivan Rakitic fondly remembers Barcelona's treble season in 2014-15, believing the attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar left opponents unsure who to focus on.

Led by their formidable 'MSN' strikeforce, Barca dazzled in Luis Enrique's first campaign in charge. Having already wrapped up a domestic double, Rakitic scored the opener in a 3-1 Champions League final win over Juventus in Berlin.

Suarez and Neymar, now at Paris Saint-Germain, also scored that day, and their partnership with the talismanic Messi was one the Croatia international relished playing with.

"It was very enjoyable," Rakitic said to Marca about playing with 'MSN' five years to the day of that European final success.

"You could see the opposition's concern, because they had to fully focus and didn't know where to concentrate most. 

"We attacked at every possible chance, we were dangerous and deep and had everything. It was a joy to play with them.

"We were very strong and got stronger with time. We reached the final at our peak and I remember how we felt.

"We said that we didn't want the season to end because we wanted to keep playing. There was a strong sense of superiority that kept us wanting to play.

"[The key was] how the players mixed together and how hungry the new players were. All of that was coupled with a great coach who knew the finer details and how to handle everything.

"It was an impressive season and I still remember it all today: what happened before the final, the game, the goal, the post-match - it was unforgettable. That final will always be engraved in my mind."

Barca, two points clear of rivals Real Madrid, are poised to resume their LaLiga campaign away to Real Mallorca on June 13.

While the 2019-20 season will have an unusual feel once it restarts due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis, Rakitic hopes it can prove to be a successful one for the club.

"It will be different for everyone," he said. "There's a clear before and after with the virus. 

"We have come through a hard time, everyone worked at home and now the games will be behind closed doors, so everything will be different."

Asked if Barca could win the Champions League for the first time since that 2015 success, Rakitic added: "We want to improve a lot of things because we know that we need to. 

"There's a fantastic atmosphere in the dressing room and we have clear objectives.

"Hopefully we'll end August with both trophies [LaLiga and the Champions League], we are working for that and I think it is possible. 

"We want it. We will have to be prepared and see how the competition is formatted, but we have an opportunity that we want to take advantage of."

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