Neymar’s hat-trick in Barcelona’s 4-1 victory at Las Palmas has ensured the Liga title race will head to the final day of the season next Sunday. Barcelona are currently top thanks to their head-to-head record against Real Madrid, but Zinedine Zidane’s side can take the outright lead if they draw or beat Celta Vigo in their game in hand on Wednesday.
And regardless of the result in midweek, the title cannot be decided until the last day – though only a Real loss at Celta would hand Barca the advantage going into the last set of fixtures. Both matches on May 21 are set to kick-off simultaneously at 7pm, with Barca hosting Eibar and Real travelling to Malaga in what is set to be a grand finale in Spain.
Barcelona ultimately did all they could to keep the pressure on Real – who ran out 4-1 winners against Sevilla – with Luis Suarez also getting on the scoresheet for the visitors.
Las Palmas did pull one back at 2-1 through Pedro Bigas in the 63rd minute, but Neymar’s second moments later took the game beyond the hosts, while his third and Barcelona’s fourth completed the flattering scoreline.
Controversy met the start of the match at the Estadio Gran Canaria when last-man Lucas Digne brought down Jese outside the box after six minutes. However, referee Joss Luis Gonzalez opted to show just a yellow to the Barcelona defender, much to the dismay of the home crowd.
A delightful team goal saw Barcelona break the deadlock midway through the half – a sublime flick from Sergio Busquets was followed by a perfectly-weighted through ball from Andres Iniesta for Suarez, who unselfishly laid it off for Neymar to tap in.
Neymar then returned the favour barely two minutes later, with the Brazilian picking out Suarez who beat the onrushing Javier Varas and dinked it over the Las Palmas ‘keeper.
Las Palmas refused to lie down however and they were rewarded for their efforts in the second half when a quick counter ended with Bigas turning home from Kevin-Prince Boateng’s cross.
However, Barcelona’s two-goal lead was restored just four minutes later as Neymar headed Ivan Rakitic’s cross back across goal and into the far corner. The Brazilian completed his hat-trick shortly after, expertly rolling the ball under Varas after being played through by Jordi Alba.
Barcelona will now watch Real’s game on Wednesday with baited breath, knowing that a shock Celta win would hand the Catalan giants the advantage going into the last day of the season.