Neymar nets 2, Suarez and Messi score as Barcelona beats Real Sociedad 4-0 in La Liga

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BARCELONA, Spain — Neymar netted twice while Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi also scored as Barcelona earned another lopsided win by beating Real Sociedad 4-0 to protect its lead of the Spanish league on Saturday.

Neymar opened the scoring midway through the first half from a pass by Dani Alves, who also set up Suarez for the defending champions' second just before halftime.

Neymar took his competition-high tally to 14 soon after the interval as he extended his scoring streak to four straight league matches.

With the result beyond doubt, Neymar and Suarez went to pains to try and set up their strike partner Messi, who went close three times and struck the upright before he got his goal to round off the rout in stoppage time. He has scored three times in three appearances since returning from a two-month injury layoff.

"It comes naturally for them. They look out for one another and aren't happy unless all three score," Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said.

Suarez, meanwhile, has scored in six consecutive rounds, and remained second in the league with 12 goals.

Second-place Atletico Madrid remained four points behind Barcelona after edging Espanyol 1-0 in the capital.

Antoine Griezmann scored his third goal in his last two games early in the match, and Espanyol never threatened to rally.

The victory was costly, however, as Atletico lost midfielder Tiago Mendes to a fractured right leg in the first half.

"Griezmann continues to grow. He is a young man who listens and executes," said Atletico coach Diego Simeone, who added that Saul Niguez would likely take Tiago's place while he recovers.

Fourth-place Celta Vigo climbed level on points with Real Madrid in third after beating Sporting Gijon 2-1 from goals by Fabian Orellana and Manuel "Nolito" Agudo, whose eight goals equal the haul of Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Deportivo La Coruna rose to sit fifth overnight with a 2-0 win at Las Palmas that was sealed by Lucas Perez's ninth goal of the season.

Barcelona was unstoppable for the third time in eight days after humbling Madrid 4-0 in last weekend's clasico and obliterating Roma 6-1 in the Champions League.

Luis Enrique's team has won nine of its last 10 games to go with one draw in the Copa del Rey that it played with reserve players.

When asked if his team provoked fear among its opponents, Luis Enrique said: "That's a question for our rivals."

Coached by former Barcelona player and assistant manager Eusebio Sacristan, Sociedad tried to disrupt Barcelona's possession by pressuring far up the pitch.

But that only left Neymar, Suarez and Messi with more room to romp.

Andres Iniesta headed Suarez's pass off the post early on. Barcelona kept arriving on both flanks and Dani Alves was played through by Messi to square the ball for Neymar, who beat his marker and stabbed Barcelona's first goal into the top of the net.

"We expected them to pressure us," Neymar said. "The victory was important for the difficulties they created for us and how we overcame them."

Dani Alves was again the assist-giver for Suarez when Iniesta sent him clear on the right side with a long ball. Suarez made a tough strike look easy as he drove in the cross with an acrobatic kick.

Barcelona's third came from an incursion by left back Jeremy Mathieu, who ran onto Iniesta's pass and crossed for the unmarked Neymar to tap in.

Messi, likewise, faced little resistance when Neymar spotted him in injury time.

At the bottom of the table, Granada scored twice in the last eight minutes to rally for a 2-2 draw at 10-man Malaga, for which Fernando Tissone was sent off midway through the second half with two bookings.

Malaga, which has scored in only three of 13 matches this season, rose into second-to-last place ahead of new bottom side Levante.

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