Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar all on target as Catalans run riot to move five points clear of title rivals Real Madrid

Lionel Messi scored his 40th league goal of the season and Luis Suarez grabbed his first Barcelona hat-trick as the league leaders won 8-0 to stay clear at the top with just three games left to play.

Ivan Rakitic, Gerard Pique and Neymar also scored as Barcelona breezed past Cordoba in the sweltering heat on Saturday.

Messi has now scored 51 goals in all competitions this season breaking the half-century mark for the fourth time in his career. In the 2010-11 season he scored 53 goals. He got 73 the following season and in the 2012-13 campaign he scored 60. He could have got a third but handed Neymar the ball for the Brazilian to score a late penalty.

It was six years to the day that Barcelona had beaten Real Madrid 6-2 in the Santiago Bernabeu in one of their most famous victories. This was a fitting tribute to that result.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi weaves his way through the Cordoba defence during the Catalan side's 8-0 victory on Saturday

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi weaves his way through the Cordoba defence during the Catalan side’s 8-0 victory on Saturday

Barcelona defender Jordi Alba (left) tussles for possesion with Cordoba defender Jose Angel Crespo (right) at the Nuevo Arcangel Stadium

Barcelona defender Jordi Alba (left) tussles for possesion with Cordoba defender Jose Angel Crespo (right) at the Nuevo Arcangel Stadium

Neymar sees a chipped effort go just wide during Barcelona's 8-0 victory over Cordoba at the Nuevo Arcangel Stadium on Saturday

Neymar sees a chipped effort go just wide during Barcelona’s 8-0 victory over Cordoba at the Nuevo Arcangel Stadium on Saturday

The omens were not all good for Barca going into the game. Back in the 1971-72 season they had blown the league in the penultimate week of the season by losing 1-0 at Cordoba. But they made sure history did not repeat itself.

In the 32 degree heat they created chances from the start. In just two minutes Andres Iniesta linked with Suarez and Neymar but the Brazilian fired his shot over the bar.

On four minutes another chance was wasted when Dani Alves combined with Neymar but Messi could not get his shot away.

Cordoba were defending well and threatening on the break with Florin Andone heading Edimar’s cross over. But at the other end Barcelona were getting closer to breaking the deadlock.

Messi dribbled around three Cordoba players after receiving the ball just inside the area from Javier Mascherano but his shot lacked the power to beat Juan Carlos in the Cordoba goal.

Suarez then laid the ball off to Iniesta and from the perfect position his weak, poorly directed shot was blocked for a corner.

Barcelona's attacking midfielder Ivan Rakitic (right) sees his shot closed down by Cordoba's Inigo Lopez (left) on Saturday

Barcelona’s attacking midfielder Ivan Rakitic (right) sees his shot closed down by Cordoba’s Inigo Lopez (left) on Saturday

Rakitic is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring the opening goal for Barcelona against Cordoba at the Nuevo Arcangel Stadium

Rakitic is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring the opening goal for Barcelona against Cordoba at the Nuevo Arcangel Stadium

Suarez scores Barcelona's fourth goal during the 8-0 demolition of Cordoba at the Nuevo Arcangel Stadium on Saturday

Suarez scores Barcelona’s fourth goal during the 8-0 demolition of Cordoba at the Nuevo Arcangel Stadium on Saturday

But just as it seemed as if Cordoba would make it to half time Barcelona scored twice in the last four minutes of the first half.

Suarez chased a loose ball down the right after Alves’ deflected shot had ballooned up into the blue Cordoba sky. When it came down he controlled it, dribbled it infield and played it back to Messi on the edge of the area. The Argentine found Rakitic with a diagonal chipped pass and when the ball sat up nicely for the Croatian he smashed it into the roof of the net.

In the next 13 minutes – not including the break – Cordoba conceded three times more.

With the last touch of the first half Suarez made it 2-0. This time it was Iniesta who played the delicate diagonal ball and the Uruguayan nudged it past the advancing goalkeeper from the edge of the six-yard box.

Messi (left) runs over to congratulate Suarez (right) after scoring during the 8-0 win over Cordoba at the Nuevo Arcangel Stadium

Messi (left) runs over to congratulate Suarez (right) after scoring during the 8-0 win over Cordoba at the Nuevo Arcangel Stadium

Suarez bagged a hat-trick against Cordoba on Saturday as Barcelona edged close to another Spanish league title

Suarez bagged a hat-trick against Cordoba on Saturday as Barcelona edged close to another Spanish league title

With Barcelona’s first attack after the break Messi headed in Alves’ cross from the right. And with their second attack Suarez glanced a header into the far corner from another centre from the Brazilian full-back.

Neymar completed a hat-trick of misses when he shot well wide of the target from Suarez’ cross but by now Cordoba’s defence had switched off and only Pique jumped in the area to power Rakitic’ corner home for 5-0 and 102 goals in La Liga.

Goal 103 came when Messi poked in from close range after the referee allowed play to continue after Suarez had been bundled over in the area. Messi got to the ball just ahead of Neymar to finish but made it up to him when he let him take the next penalty after the Brazilian had been brought down.

Suarez swept in a rebound after a Xavi shot from distance had been blocked and that made if 105 league goals.

The former Liverpool striker took home the match ball safe in the knowledge that with three more wins he will get his hands on a league winners medal this season.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique (right) jumps highest to score his side's fifth goal during the 8-0 win over Cordoba on Saturday

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique (right) jumps highest to score his side’s fifth goal during the 8-0 win over Cordoba on Saturday

The 8-0 victory over Cordoba on Saturday has seen Barcelona move five points clear at the top of La Liga 

The 8-0 victory over Cordoba on Saturday has seen Barcelona move five points clear at the top of La Liga

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