Luis Suarez Brace Leads Barcelona to 3-2 La Liga Win over Rayo Vallecano

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistNovember 3, 2018

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 03:  Luis Suarez of Barcelona reacts during the La Liga match between Rayo Vallecano de Madrid and FC Barcelona at Campo de Futbol de Vallecas on November 3, 2018 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona remain top of La Liga after beating Rayo Vallecano 3-2 at Vallecas Stadium on Saturday. Two goals from Luis Suarez and one from substitute Ousmane Dembele gave the Blaugrana all three points in the absence of injured attacking talisman Lionel Messi.

Suarez opened the scoring before Jose Pozo and Alvaro Garcia put Rayo into a shock lead. Dembele came off the bench to equalise with three minutes remaining, but it was left to Suarez to win it in the final minute.

The result means Barca stay ahead of Atletico Madrid in the title race after Atleti dropped points in a 1-1 draw against Leganes earlier in the day.


Suarez Needs Better Support in Messi's Absence

It's not a problem for Suarez to thrive in Messi's absence, as he added to his impressive haul of league goals:

LaLiga @LaLigaEN

THAT MAN AGAIN. 🔥⚽️🔥 @LuisSuarez9 is now the joint top scorer in #LaLigaSantander with 8 goals! #RayoBarça https://t.co/5rYgdtOfUB

His deft finish after meeting Jordi Alba's low cross in the 11th minute maintained a terrific recent run of form for the player who helped himself to a hat-trick in the recent 5-1 Clasico win over bitter rivals Real Madrid:

bet365 @bet365

Luis Suarez's updated form: Assist vs Valencia Goal and assist vs Sevilla Assist vs Inter Hat-trick vs Real Madrid Goal vs Rayo 👏

As good as Suarez was in Vallecano, Barca struggled to build on his imperious display because of the lack of support around the Uruguay international. The Blaugrana started with Rafinha and Philippe Coutinho flanking their No. 9 while wide forwards Ousmane Dembele and Munir El Haddadi remained on the bench.

It was telling how short of more chances Suarez was until Dembele came on in place of Rafinha:

Tom Allnutt @TomAllnuttAFP

Dembele on for Rafinha who hasn't been great. Embarba misses great chance. Ter Stegen to the rescue again. 1-1.

The welcome move saw Dembele play in Suarez to go close. He went closer still after Munir entered the fray in place of Coutinho and played the 31-year-old through 11 minutes from time.

It was no coincidence Suarez found more space once Dembele's pace stretched the Rayo defence while Munir's perceptive movement took markers away. Eventually, he made full use of the extra room to slot in the winner after being teed up by Sergi Roberto.

Suarez is good enough to help Barca thrive even in Messi's absence, but he still needs the right players around him in order to succeed.


Jordi Alba Deserves Spain Recall

Alba has been overlooked by Spain in recent matches, but the decorated left-back's performance on Saturday put his national team boss and former club manager on notice:

Kieran Canning @KieranCanning

If Jordi Alba isn't in Spain squad this week, Luis Enrique is really having a laugh

Alba was lively and dangerous from the off as he tirelessly raided the left flank and created a host of chances with some intelligent end product. His best contribution was the low and accurate pass into Suarez's path for the opener.

Such assists have become the norm for the former Valencia defender:

Kay Murray @KayLMurray

Death, taxes and a Jordi Alba cutback assist.

Alba continued to create chances and proved Barca's most dependable creative outlet. It would surely beggar belief if Luis Enrique continues to ignore the 29-year-old for La Roja.


What's Next?

Barca are away to Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday before hosting Real Betis in league action on Nov. 11.

Rayo's next game will be at home to Villarreal on the same day.