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Neymar, Messi, Bale and Ronaldo Watch: Brazilian Leads Way as Barca Edge Clear

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Neymar, Messi, Bale and Ronaldo Watch: Brazilian Leads Way as Barca Edge Clear
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Neymar completed a swashbuckling week by scoring twice against Villarreal to be the centrepiece of La Liga’s four headliners as Barcelona extended the gap between themselves and Real Madrid to five points.

It took the Brazilian's tally to five goals in two matches following his hat-trick at Camp Nou against Celtic in midweek—doubling the five he'd managed in his first 20 matches for his new club.

And if Gerardo Martino's comments in the build up to that Champions League match were supposed to provoke a reaction from the 21-year-old, they certainly did just that.

"He should score more goals than he has so far," the Barca boss told reporters in the week, as reported on Goal.com.

“The only question about Neymar is his finishing. He's a player who fills all facets of play. He's not a goalscorer with the characteristics of Leo [Messi], but he'll give us the same sort of goal return as Pedro, Alexis [Sanchez] and Cesc [Fabregas]."

Perhaps Tata will reconsider revising his words after this week's exploits?

Neymar opened the scoring against Villarreal from the penalty spot after Mario handled Jordi Alba's cross. He’s the fifth player to score from 12 yards for La Blaugrana this season—Messi, Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and Xavi are the other four.

Having come up against a well-organised defence, the goal at last allowed Neymar and his colleagues to open up and express themselves.

They were unlucky not to double their lead before the interval as they increased the tempo, with the direct running and delayed passes of the Catalan’s summer signing beginning to cause real problems for the visitors.

The Yellow Submarine did equalise after the break though, but it merely served to set the stage for Neymar again.

Shortly after the introduction of Xavi, Fabregas clipped a pass to Alexis, who displayed great movement and awareness to place the winner on a platter for Barca’s No. 11.

Tail well and truly up, Neymar was now full of dancing feet and smiles.

Only Sergio Asenjo denied him a treble with a stunning save following a fine run and one-two, although the flag had gone up.

So while Lionel Messi still recovers from an injury, it seems Barca can count on the goals of Neymar that not even his manager had been counting on.

Earlier in the day Real Madrid couldn’t count on either of their two superstars to dig them out of a hole in Pamplona.

Catalan Oriol Riera's double fired Osasuna into a 2-0 lead at El Sadar when Sergio Ramos picked up his second yellow card just before the break—his 18th red card for Madrid.

Two down and 10 men? The stage was set, it seemed, for Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

And when Ronaldo drove forward to set up Isco on the stroke of half-time it seemed like the script was about to live up to expectations.

However Bale was enduring a difficult afternoon in northern Spain, at a ground where Los Blancos had only won once in their previous five visits. So difficult, in fact, that Carlo Ancelotti decided to hook him for Angel di Maria before the match clock even hit 60 minutes.

Meanwhile even Ronaldo, possibly still not fully fit, was struggling to have the impact he may have liked.

It was another Portuguese international, Pepe, who eventually salvaged a point for Madrid, in a match which saw the BBC—Bale, [Karim] Benzema, Cristiano—have their first really disappointing day at the office.

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