BARCELONA (AP) – Luis Suarez’s long wait for a goal in the Spanish league finally ended when he added to Lionel Messi’s brace to give Barcelona a 5-0 win over Cordoba on Saturday.
After putting Barcelona ahead two minutes in at Camp Nou, Pedro Rodriguez passed in the 53rd for Suarez to net his first goal in eight league matches following his four-month biting ban. Suarez had scored twice in the Champions League.
Gerard Pique headed in Barcelona’s third in the 80th before Messi struck his team-leading 14th and 15th league goals of the season.
“I was able to score and that leaves me at peace,” Suarez said. “I am a striker and I have to score goals, but I am helping the team win games. That’s why I don’t obsess about it.”
Barcelona pulled to within one point of Real Madrid, which won’t play its game against Sevilla from this round until Feb 4 due to its appearance in the Club World Cup final in Morocco. Madrid won the final 2-0 over Argentine side San Lorenzo.
Elsewhere in Spain, Valencia climbed into provisional fourth place with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Eibar, while Levante midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz converted an injury-time penalty to salvage a 1-1 draw at home with Real Sociedad.
Sergio Garcia also scored two goals and set up another to lead 10-man Espanyol 3-1 at Rayo Vallecano, leaving Sociedad as the only team yet to win on the road this season.
Cordoba offered little resistance to Barcelona as the strugglers remained 19th out of 20, and coach Miroslav Djukic gave a scathing review of his players’ effort.
“We came here to ask the Barcelona players for their shirts. I feel ashamed,” Djukic said. “We were asking for autographs and shirts with photos before the game. To win here, you have to have pride.”
Pedro’s early goal came after he used one touch of his right boot to control Ivan Rakitic’s lobbed pass, before a second flick put the ball past goalkeeper Juan Carlos Martin.
With Barcelona dominating with ease, the home crowd didn’t come alive until Suarez poked Pedro’s pass under Martin.
Pique headed in Xavi Hernandez’s free kick and, two minutes later, Messi was kept in check until a poorly defended corner kick fell for him to fire in. He followed that with a goal in stoppage time when he spun and slotted the ball just inside the post for his 22nd and 23rd goals through 22 games in all competitions.
Valencia striker Paco Alcacer finished off a quick attack from a long ball behind Eibar’s defense in the 31st. Valencia then withstood Eibar’s repeated attempts to pull even before securing the victory that lifted it one point behind third-place Atletico Madrid and one point ahead of Sevilla.
Eibar remained in ninth, ahead of Espanyol in 10th.
Espanyol went ahead after Rayo goalie Cristian Alvarez spilled the ball in a collision with a teammate, leaving Garcia to poach his first goal in the ninth.
Leo Baptistao equalised for Rayo just before halftime, but Garcia crossed for Lucas Vazquez to head home in the 76th, and added a third in injury time with Espanyol hanging on with 10 men after substitute Christian Stuani received two bookings.
Sociedad was on the verge of getting its first away win of the season when Sergio Canales scored off the post in the 48th minute. But defender Carlos Martinez handled a ball in the area during Levante’s last push forward, giving Ivanschitz his spot kick that he fired into the top corner.
Both teams were left three points above the drop zone.