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A workmanlike performance from Barça against relegation-threatened Granada resulted in the perfect response to last week’s setback at home to Málaga. A thoroughly deserved 3-1 win keeps the Catalans well in the hunt for the Liga title. The only downside to a fine performance from Barça was a yellow card for Neymar, which means he’ll be suspended against Rayo Vallecano.
The game took some time to warm up, with both sides working their offside traps well. No chances fell in the first 20 minutes other than a single pop from Jordi Alba, making his 100th appearance in a Barça shirt, and that Oier dealt with easily. On 22 minutes, the former Barça keeper was called on again to tip a Xavi shot over the bar. Other than a long-range header from Javi Márquez, Granada had done little to trouble the Barça defence when, after 25 minutes, the deadlock was finally broken by Ivan Rakitic. A Suárez shot was deflected off the line by Cala, but the ball ran straight to the Croatian’s feet, and all he had to do was slam it home. 1-0 to Barcelona!
Leo Messi had three chances before the break. A right-footer went sailing narrowly over the bar, another opportunity was blown offside and third was saved by Oier. Meanwhile, Granada tried to work their way back into the game, and came very close to an equaliser with a Márquez strike that was brilliantly turned away by FCB stopper Bravo.
Suárez and Messi score
The second half was a considerably livelier affair. It was just three minutes old when Luis Suárez extended the Catalans’ lead, beating Oier with a deft finish following a terrific assist from Rakitic. But just five minutes later, Granada pulled a goal back. The referee judged Bartra to have tripped Lass in the area and pointed at the spot. Fran Rico stepped up to convert the penalty to make it 2-1.
Barça piled on the pressure in search of goal number three, and it finally came after 70 minutes, with Rakitic involved yet again. He found Suárez with a wonderful pass, and the Uruguayan skilfully rounded Oier before generously laying up Messi, who tapped the ball into an empty net.
Granada knew they were beaten by this stage, but despite a series of chances for FCB, including one for Messi that was brilliantly blocked by Oier with three minutes to go, there was no further score. 3-1 to Barça in Andalusia and three points to put the pressure on leaders Real Madrid, who play Villarreal on Sunday.
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