Three-goal Suarez leads the charge as Barcelona thump Betis 6-2

Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick and Lionel Messi bagged two as Barcelona started their defence of their Spanish league title with a 6-2 destruction of Real Betis on Saturday.

Suarez, who was league top scorer with 40 goals last season, took advantage of some sloppy defending, while Messi struck twice with his left foot from outside the area.

"Today we wanted to show everyone why we are the champions," Suarez said.

"It was so important for us to make a good start today, and that is exactly what we have done."

The Uruguayan striker was quick to pay tribute to partner-in-crime Messi, saying: "Leo is the best player in the world, without a doubt.

"It's a real privilege to play with him. He makes everything look so easy."

Barca's opening goal was put away by in-form Arda Turan, before veteran Ruben Castro equalized for Betis with a fierce free-kick.

Castro scored a second consolation goal for the visitors at the end, after Suarez and Messi, who was captain in place of the injured Andres Iniesta, had completed their demolition job.

Barca had 29 shots on goal and would have scored even more goals were it not for a string of saves from Betis keeper Antonio Adan.

"Barcelona are a wonderful team," Castro said.

"They are so difficult to play against. They are putting you under pressure for the whole 90 minutes, forcing you into making mistakes."

Meanwhile, Barca coach Luis Enrique said: "This was almost a perfect match for us.

"The boys looked keener than ever today. Their collective level was extremely high."

Defender Samuel Umtiti and midfielder Denis Suarez made good league debuts for Barca, while Arda took advantage of the absence of Neymar - playing for Brazil at the Olympics - to stake his claim for a starting place.

It was probably the last match at the Camp Nou for Barca's  keeper Claudio Bravo. After the game, the club's sporting director Robert Fernandez said an agreement had been reached for the sale of the Chilean veteran to Manchester City.

Later Saturday, Villarreal's chaotic start to the season continued with a disappointing 1-1 draw at Granada.

Samuel Castillejo gave Villarreal the lead on the hour, only for Ezequiel Ponce to immediately level for Granada.

Villarreal parted company with coach Marcelino Garcia last week then lost 2-1 at home to Monaco in the play-offs for the Champions League.

Saturday's late game was to bring together Sevilla and Espanyol.

Last update: Sat, 20/08/2016 - 22:39

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