herald

Monday 5 December 2016

By Iain Rogers

By Iain Rogers

MADRID, April 16 (Reuters) - Luis Suarez was still in disgrace after the World Cup biting incident when Barcelona paid 81 million euros to buy him from Liverpool last July and a slow start in Spain prompted many to question the wisdom of the deal.

Nine months on and Suarez has silenced the doubters with a run of scoring in crucial games that has helped keep the Catalan giants firmly on course for a repeat of their 2009 treble of Champions League and Spanish league and Cup titles.

The Uruguay forward scored both goals in Barca's 2-1 win at Manchester City in the last 16 of Europe's elite club competition in February and netted a superb winner in the La Liga 'Clasico' against Real Madrid last month.

His brilliant double in the Champions League quarter-final first leg at Paris St Germain on Wednesday showcased his sublime skills and strength on the ball and the 28-year-old took his tally in the competition to six goals in six games this term.

Suarez twice made PSG centre back David Luiz look ridiculous by slipping the ball between the Brazil international's legs in the run-up to each goal as Barca virtually guaranteed themselves a place in the last four.

"Forwards are always hunting for goals," Suarez told reporters.

"The 'nutmeg' on David Luiz was the last option open to me for the third goal and thankfully it went in and helped give the team more security," he added.

Suarez's two goals both came in the second half after Neymar's 18th-minute opener.

PSG gave themselves a glimmer of hope before next week's return game at the Nou Camp when a Gregory van der Wiel shot ricocheted into the net off Barca defender Jeremy Mathieu eight minutes from time.

However, they face close to an impossible mission to make the last four as based on historic results in first legs of two-legged European ties Barca's chance of advancing to the semi-finals is 98.5 percent.

"We have seen all sorts of scenarios in football so we will not make the mistake of thinking it's over and qualification is a given," Barca coach Luis Enrique said. "We'll have the same goal as we do in every match: to win."

Barca, who are top of La Liga and through to next month's King's Cup final to play Athletic Bilbao, are next in action on Saturday when they host Valencia in Spain's top flight. (Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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