Barcelona coach Luis Enrique labelled star striker Neymar “unstoppable” after he scored four times as the European champions roared back from a goal down to beat Rayo Vallecano 5-2 on Saturday.
In the absence of the injured Lionel Messi, the Brazilian converted twice from the penalty spot in the first-half after he had been felled inside the area and then slotted home twice in a minute after the break before teeing up Luis Suarez for Barca’s fifth of the evening.
“Since the start of the season he has been electric,” said Enrique.
“He was very effective and practically unstoppable. With the speed he goes at inside the area the defenders stop him this way by committing a penalty or it is a goal.”
Neymar’s first four-goal haul in a Barca jersey also makes him La Liga’s top scorer for the first time in his three-year spell in Spain with eight in seven league appearances so far this season.
Victory takes Barca back level with Real Madrid at the top of table after Madrid were comfortable 3-0 winners over Levante earlier on Saturday.
However, the Catalans didn’t have it all their own way against an attack-minded Rayo side that often left themselves way too exposed against a Barca frontline containing the talents of Neymar and Suarez.
“I told my players and the press during the week that to play against Rayo is always difficult,” added Enrique.
“I have never had an easy game against Rayo with Paco Jemez as coach. It is a game in which you have to be prepared for every ball and they try to make the game as uncomfortable as possible.
“We take the three points. I am very happy with the first-half performance, we played badly in the second-half, but curiously we were more clinical in the second than the first.”
In a recurring theme of an up and down start to the campaign, Barca once again passed up a host of easy chances to put the game to bed before half time.
And Enrique admitted his side will have to be more clinical in a busy three-week stretch that included six more games before Messi will be fit to return.
“It is curious. It has been a continuous problem this season, players of great quality missing chances. We continue working to make sure it doesn’t happen again so that next time we have 10 chances we score 10 or nine.”