Lionel Messi scored twice and Luis Suarez struck his first La Liga goal as Barcelona crushed struggling Cordoba 5-0 to finish the year a point behind Real Madrid at the top of the table.

In form Pedro put Barca ahead after just 71 seconds, the second quickest in La Liga this season, with a clinical finish from a ball over the top of the defence by Ivan Rakitic.

Suarez returned from a four-month ban for biting at the end of October and claimed his first goal in La Liga when he slotted the ball home from a Pedro pass.

With the Cordoba players' heads going down, Gerard Pique nodded in Barca's third and then Messi fired in a late double.

Xavi came on as a second-half substitute in his 741st match for Barca, equalling the record of Real's Raul for the number of games for a single club in Spanish football.

Barca have moved on to the shoulders of Real who are playing the Club World Cup final on Saturday against San Lorenzo and have played a game less then their arch-rivals.

Source: Reuters