Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar (L) greets fans after the Primera Division Liga match between Sporting de Gijon and Barcelona in Gijon, Spain, on 24 September 2016.

Neymar scored a late brace as Barcelona cruised to the top of the Spanish Liga on Saturday with an impressive 5-0 romp at 10-man Sporting Gijon.

Neymar was on target twice in the final 10 minutes, with Luis Suarez, Rafinha and Arda Turan getting the other goals against 12th-placed Gijon, who had left-back Lora sent off 16 minutes from time.

It was the perfect way for Barca to start their potentially tricky three-week spell without injured idol Lionel Messi.

Barca are level on 13 points with Real Madrid, who have an inferior goal difference. Real were to visit sixth-placed Las Palmas later Saturday, after third-placed Sevilla had faced Athletic Bilbao.

Barca went into the game under a dark cloud after Wednesday's disappointing 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid, in which Messi sprained his right hamstring.

However, they had the whip hand in Gijon from the start and Suarez gave them the lead in the 29th minute with a cool finish after being set up by Arda, who was standing in for Messi.

Suarez, who was top scorer last season with 40 league goals, is now top of the list again with five strikes.

"The important thing is that we have won, not that I have scored," Suarez said.

"People will look at the final result and think this was an easy game for us, but it certainly was not. Gijon made things quite hard for us, especially in the first half hour."

Three minutes after Suarez' opener, right-back revelation Sergi Roberto centred for Rafinha to make it 2-0 with a diving header.

Gijon managed to limit the damage until the final 15 minutes, when the floodgates opened with them reduced to 10 men.

Neymar took advantage to score a handsome brace, with Arda scoring in between.

Earlier, Eibar beat Basque rivals Real Sociedad 2-0, thanks to an own goal from Asier Illarramendi and a strike from Bebe.

Sociedad had defender Aritz Elustondo sent off after just 25 minutes and although Eibar's Pedro Leon blasted the resultant penalty over the bar, Sociedad were unable to avoid defeat playing for so long with a man less.

The win took lively Eibar up to fourth and left Sociedad 10th. 

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