FC Barcelona overcome their injury woes to beat Granada with goals from Iniesta (pen), Cesc (pen), Alexis and Pedro
In the 81st minute, Adama came on to make his first team debut
Nothing can stop Barça in the league. On Saturday at the Camp Nou, and despite the squad being plagued by injuries, they brushed aside Granada 4-0 with first half goals from Iniesta and Cesc, both from the penalty spot, and two more from Alexis Sánchez and Pedro after the break. The return from the international break could not have been more perfect. Four different players scored, Pinto kept a clean sheet, Adama Traoré made his first team debut and none of Valdés, Alves, Xavi or Messi were particularly missed, with the latter showing off his Golden Boot before the match.
Iniesta: captain and a goal
Barça went straight at it for the start, with Alexis shooting in the very first minute and Iniesta having a goal disallowed for offside. Granada had come to the Camp Nou with plenty of good intentions, but struggled to gain any meaningful possession of the ball. Almost all of the action was in their half, and finally Foulquier brought down Cesc in the area and the referee pointed at the spot. Iniesta, captain this Saturday, stepped up to take the penalty, and made no mistake. 1-0 to Barcelona.
Granada responded through their most active player, Piti, who first hit the crossbar and then brought out the best in Pinto with a fine strike. But that was about all the Andalusians could produce. Barça were in clear control of the game, with Neymar running the show with a series of penetrating runs, and both Iturra and El Arabi resorting to desperate tackles to deal with him, and being yellow carded for their efforts.
The second goal of the night was a curious reverse of the first. This time it was Iniesta who was fouled by Fran Rico in the area, and it was Cesc who converted the spot kick.
Alexis makes it three
It was Pedro who got the first chance after the break. He found himself perfectly positioned to get FCB’s third, but his shot went flying over the bar. And it was also the Canary Islander who was brought down by Iturra for the Granada player’s second bookable offence, leaving his team a man down with 25 minutes yet to play. Just when the game looked over, Nyom found himself in great position to make it 2-1, but opted to shoot instead of pass, and in the counter attack that followed immediately after, Alexis received a through ball from Neymar to make it 3-0.
Adama makes debut
With the result as good as settled, Martino started shifting his bench. Busquets and Alexis came off to make room for Song and Sergi Roberto, and with eight minutes remaining, Adama Traoré replaced Neymar. The 17-year-old thus became the eighth youngest player ever to represent the club in an official fixture, and had only been on the pitch for a few moments when he came frustratingly close to scoring. But there was still one more goal to come. In the 90th minute, Cesc could have shot himself, but generally supplied a square ball to Pedro waiting at the far post, who slotted home Barça’s fourth. The incredible run continues, and Barça stay top of the league with an astonishing 40 points out of a possible 42.