Luis Enrique’s side, without Lionel Messi, laboured during the opening stages against the Yellow Submarine and appeared shorn of their typical zip and confidence.
Indeed, it was the visitors who arguably had the best chance during the first period when an error from Dani Alves opened the door for Villarreal, forcing Claudio Bravo into a smart stop.
However, it was Barcelona who took the lead on 60 minutes when Neymar beat Alphonse Areola. Luis Suarez made it 2-0 ten minutes later from the penalty spot, before Neymar added a late third five minutes before the end.
This was a goal of sheer class, and one that even Messi himself would have been proud.
The Brazil forward received the ball from Suarez, flicked the ball over the defender, ran to meet his own touch and hammered the ball past the flailing stopper.
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It was Neymar’s 11th goal in 10 outings in the Spanish league so far this season. Beyond the Neymar wondergoal, Barcelona were much improved during the second half, even if they still lacked an element of cohesion without Messi and will be desperate for his return.