Neymar scored one of the goals of the season so far as Barcelona impressively saw off tricky opposition in the form of Villarreal at Camp Nou on Sunday.
The Brazilian, receiving the ball inside the area from Luis Suarez, produced an audacious touch to lift the ball over Jaume Costa’s head and spun around to meet the it on the other side and fire a low shot beyond the diving Alphonse Areola.
By that point, he had already opened the scoring, with Luis Suarez adding Barça’s second from the penalty before the game’s magical moment arrived.
Neymar now has 11 league goals to his name — more than anyone else in La Liga — and Suarez has nine. Between them they have 20 of Barcelona’s 23 goals since Lionel Messi got injured against Las Palmas.
Next up is the small matter of Real Madrid at the Bernabeu after the international break and the pre-match talk might not be about the injured Messi, it might just be about Neymar.
Suarez dragged one half chance to the left of the post and
another to the right as Barça began on the front foot. Despite that, there was little penetration from the home side throughout the first half.
Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo had a hairy moment early on, too, but some nifty footwork helped him avoid embarrassment as Roberto Soldado attempted to close him down on his goal line.
Back up the other end, Spain right-back Mario Gaspar almost had an embarrassing moment of his own, only for Alphonse Areola to come to his rescue. Mario deflected a Barcelona pass back towards his own goal, but the young French stopper tipped it over for a corner.
The other Suarez, Denis, then headed over for Villarreal and the visitors then had there best chance of the half, Samu Castillejo getting in behind Barça’s back four, only to be denied by Bravo.
With a lack of clear cut openings, referee Clos Gomez took centre stage. He had already booked Iniesta in the first half when he showed yellow cards to both Suarez and Neymar in a matter of minutes after the break — needless to say the Camp Nou crowd were far from impressed.
Moments after that, Dani Alves was somehow denied by Areola. The right-back arrived at the back post and looked certain to turn home a Neymar cross, but Areola clawed the ball off the line just as Barcelona were about to begin celebrating.
The breakthrough eventually arrived after an hour. Villarreal failed to clear the danger and Busiest, receiving the ball 30 yard out, played an eye-of-the-needle pass to Neymar, who took one touch and stroked the ball home to break down the visiting side’s stubborn resistance.
Iniesta should have made it two almost immediately, but his effort was brilliantly saved by Areola — Suarez’s dummy from Sergi Roberto’s pass in the build-up was as good as the save, too.
Pique became the fifth Barcelona player to enter the book when he cynically brought down Suarez of the Denis variety outside the box, with Marcelino’s men unable to take advantage of the free-kick.
Barça soon made them pay for that, doubling their lead via a penalty. Sergi Roberto drove forward, feeding a pass to Munir, who took a tumble in the area. Gomez pointed to the spot and Suarez sent Areola the wrong way.
Then came the Neymar moment — a moment which will be remembered throughout the 23-year-old’s career and beyond.