Suarez hat trick sends Barcelona into Club World Cup final
ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 18, 2015 11:16 AM
FC Barcelona's Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring a goal against Guangzhou Evergrande during their semifinal match at the FIFA Club World Cup soccer tournament in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
AP Sports Writer
YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — Luis Suarez made up for the absence of Lionel Messi and Neymar, scoring a hat trick Thursday as Barcelona beat Guangzhou Evergrande 3-0 to advance to the final of the Club World Cup.
Suarez put Barcelona ahead just before halftime, hammering in a rebound off Ivan Rakitic's long-range effort that was parried by Guangzhou goalkeeper Li Shuai.
The striker made it 2-0 five minutes after the break when he controlled a pass from Andres Iniesta off his chest and beat Li with a right-footed volley. He put the result beyond doubt with a penalty kick after Huang Bowen took down Munir El Haddadi in the area.
"Suarez was spectacular," Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said. "He is very talented in difficult situations and knows what to do in those situations. We had some injuries to deal with so we had to adjust and he stepped up."
Barcelona will face South American champion River Plate in the final on Sunday.
Messi was diagnosed Thursday morning with renal colic, a type of abdominal pain commonly attributed to kidney stones. His availability for the final will "depend on the outcome of further medical tests," the club said in a statement.
Neymar, who has been recovering from a groin injury, remained on the bench.
Guangzhou entered Thursday's semifinal match on a 28-game unbeaten run stretching back to May, shortly before Luiz Felipe Scolari took charge.
"We lost 3-0 to them but other big clubs have lost to them by the same score so we are no worse," Scolari said. "We are a good team. We've improved a lot but we have not caught up with the big clubs of the world."
Guangzhou will face Japanese champion Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the third-place game, also on Sunday.
Barcelona is bidding to win the tournament for a record third time after titles in 2009 and 2011.