Luis Suarez made up for the absence of star strikers Lionel Messi and Neymar by scoring a brilliant hat trick on Thursday as Barcelona defeated Guangzhou Evergrande 3-0 to advance to the final of the Club World Cup.
The Uruguayan forward 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 doubled their tally 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.
Barcelona will now face South American champion River Plate in the final on Sunday.
Earlier, Lionel Messi was diagnosed 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.
Barcelona is bidding to win the tournament for a record third time after titles in 2009 and 2011.