BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona's hat-trick hero Luis Suarez said they deserve extra credit for humiliating Real Madrid 5-1 in Sunday's 'Clasico' as they did it without the help of talisman Lionel Messi, who missed the game with a broken arm.
"It's better for Messi to play as he is the best in the world and he gives you a boost but we should be very proud as a team, as we showed that we are a great team without Messi and we have a great coach (Ernesto Valverde)," Suarez said.
The Uruguayan doubled Barca's lead from the penalty spot after Philippe Coutinho's early opener and then made it 3-1 in the second half, extinguishing any hope of a Real revival after Marcelo had pulled a goal back for the European champions.
"Madrid went out to win the game in the second half and they had chances but we did a great job, we all ran a lot and they left space, and we took advantage on the counter-attack and killed the game off," added Suarez, who rounded off a memorable week in which he also became a father for the third time.
"Nights like these are unforgettable. After a special week for becoming a father again these three goals taste even better," he added after the Liga leaders opened a seven-point gap on their arch-rivals.
Sunday's thumping win over Real followed a convincing 2-0 victory over Inter Milan in the Champions League group stage, in which Barca were also without captain Messi, who broke his arm against Sevilla last Saturday.
Midfielder Ivan Rakitic said his side's form meant talisman Messi did not need to hurry his comeback from injury.
"Messi can relax. We want him to recover well, without forcing himself," said the Croatian.
"We enjoyed ourselves a lot. It's not easy when Leo is not around but we were the superior team and that makes us very happy."
Barca left back Jordi Alba was also euphoric, adding: "Beating Real Madrid is almost as enjoyable as winning the Champions League."
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris)