Barcelona boss Luis Enrique delighted with first-half blitz against Sevilla

05 April 2017 11:54

Luis Enrique hailed Barcelona's "best first-half performance of the season" as they kept the pressure on LaLiga leaders Real Madrid by swatting aside Sevilla.

Sevilla had been in the title race themselves a month ago but their winless league run reached five games as they were beaten 3-0 and had forward Vitolo sent off in stoppage time.

Luis Suarez scored an overhead kick in the 25th minute before Lionel Messi netted twice in the next eight minutes to help Barca record a ninth win in 10 league games.

The Catalan giants remain two points behind Real Madrid, who also won on Wednesday, a nd their ruthless display left their outgoing manager Enrique thrilled.

"Probably we have put in the best first-half performance of the season," said Enrique, who will take a year-long sabbatical after the campaign has ended.

"I am happy because it is a positive victory over a great team and because of how we controlled the game."

The Barca boss also praised Suarez's awareness after the former Liverpool striker reacted quickest to a loose ball in the six-yard box before acrobatically firing home.

"He has that ability to know where the goal is at all times," Enrique added to Barcelona's official website. "(He is) the best centre forward in the world."

When asked about his goal, Suarez said: "The ball was coming towards me and it was the only way of getting it in. I am just happy with the win.

"Being a striker you always know where the goal is and where the ball is to be able to find the net.

"It's a weapon that strikers use in the penalty area and it allowed us to take the lead."

Jorge Sampaoli, who had been linked as a potential replacement for Enrique, admitted his side have been unable to keep their intensity going all season.

After challenging Real Madrid and Barcelona for much of the campaign, Sevilla now find themselves fourth, 13 points behind leaders Real.

They have not won since March 2, a run of games that has also seen them dumped out of the Champions League by English champions Leicester.

"Fighting alongside Madrid and Barcelona has cost us," Sampaoli said in his press conference, covered by Marca.

"Dropping out of the Champions League was a very big blow, and in LaLiga we had to play Atletico Madrid too soon after. We have to believe again."

Sampaoli felt his side improved after the break, but the damage had already been done.

"Our plan was to defend with the ball at our feet, but if Barcelona forces you into these situations, you pay," he added.

"In the second half, we deserved something more."

Source: PA