Alexis Sanchez scored a hat-trick as Barcelona swept back to the top of La Liga with a dominant 4-0 victory against Elche at Camp Nou.
The win was Barca's sixth in succession and came with the injured Lionel Messi watching on from the stands, while Neymar was limited to a 10-minute cameo from the bench.
Doubts over Tata Martino's team persist, but 24 goals in their last six games suggest they're in confident mood and will take some beating domestically and in Europe—especially with Messi back to help them.
Against Elche, it was Chilean Alexis who took on match-winning duties, and in some style, too.
There were just seven minutes on the clock when Alexis slotted home Jordi Alba's exquisite ball from the left to put Barcelona ahead.
The home side doubled their lead through Pedro soon after. The forward was sent through by his Spanish international team-mate and rounded the goalkeeper to finish with aplomb. It was Pedro's 15th goal of the season.
15 - Pedro Rodriguez has got over Lionel Messi as Barcelona’s top scorer in all competitions this season (15 goals). Canary— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 5, 2014
Barcelona went into the break 2-0 up and having hardly broken sweat. Martino's men were completely dominant in all areas of the game, and a high-scoring victory looked theirs for the taking.
A third goal arrived just after the hour mark, and it was Alexis who got it. Pedro was once again set free, but this time he played creator to lay on Alexis for a simple tap-in.
Alexis' hat-trick goal, which arrived a few minutes later, was the best of the bunch. Lining up a free-kick from distance, he bent a wonderful shot into the top corner and beyond the reaches of Elche's goalkeeper to make it 4-0.
Alexis, just now, to Gol TV: "Martino has placed in me the confidence a player needs" All he needed...— David (@davidjaca) January 5, 2014
Despite several chances to increase their lead, along with a couple of penalty appeals for Barcelona, that's how it stayed.
The result returns Barca to the top of La Liga, level on points with Atletico Madrid.
Next up for Martino's team in the league, a trip to face their title challengers on January 11.