Granada - FC Barcelona (0-1): Xavi Brilliance Earns Victory
Pedro was carried off the pitch in the 55th minute, Muñiz Fernández gave Granada's Jaime and Benítez marching orders
Following the disappointment of Saturday's draw, the team were back to winning ways atGranadatonight, as they put in a practical performance at theLos CarmenesStadium. In the first half, withIsaac Cuencamaking his debut out on the left wing, Barça played fast and attractive football which culminated in Xavi's superbly taken free kick.
Granada suffered two red cards after the break, one at the start and one at the end of the half. Barça duly ran out winners, though perhaps without their usual verve and sparkle, to take over the top spot in the league ahead of Wednesday's games.
Dominant from the start
Just as Seville had done on Saturday,Granadaclosed up shop from the start and handed over the initiative to Barça, hoping to catch the champions on the break, whilst Barça put together plenty of passing movements in front of the Granada box, looking for spaces in their defensive wall.Messi and Cuencaboth had shots wide in the early encounters.
Despite Barça's domination, Granada were holding out and reached the half hour mark with their goal intact, but soon afterXaviwas fouled on the edge of the box and he got up to put away a brilliant free kick past the helpless Granada keeper. Magnificent!
Jaime sent off
Things got tougher for the hosts whenJaimewas shown a second yellow for dangerous play. Barça were also to lose a player at the same time, asPedrotwisted his ankle in a nasty way and was replaced byDavid Villa. With the extra man, Barça pushed for the second and it looked as if Messi had got it, only to see his effort spectacularly cleared off the line byMainz.
However, after that chance the pace of the game dropped notably as both teams seemed happy with the 0-1 result. All hope for a Granada equalizer faded after the home side were reduced to nine men when Benítezwas also shown a second yellow. Xavi's goal proved enough forBarçato return to Barcelona with the three points.