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FC Barcelona are even further clear at the top of the table after three locally sourced points stretched their winning start to the season to six games.
It was always going to be an unusual, but also very special Catalan flavoured occasion, as the team took the short journey north by coach up the AP7 motorway to the Montilivi home of Liga debutants Girona.
With the likes of Sergio Busquets and Gerard Piqué on the bench, perhaps with an eye on Champions League football midweek, the visitors made their superiority show from the start. But Barça were uncharacteristically hesitant up front and eventually had to rely on a Girona defender for their opening goal.
After 17 minutes, Jordi Alba drove the ball into the area and Aday Benítez’s outstretched foot deflected it straight into the back of his own net.
There’s no question that Gorka Iraizoz was the busier of the two goalkeepers. It was hardly a rip-roaring performance, but Messi, Alba, Rakitic and Paulinho all came close to adding to the lead.
And although the home side seemed a little shy about taking the initiative, Girona managed to make sure Ter Stegen’s gloves got the occasional test as well – and could even feel pleased to have largely managed to contain Barça for the first 45 minutes.
Suárez: 87 goals in 100 games
But it always looked like a second Barça goal would finish this game off, and that goal came just moment s after the players emerged back from the tunnel. And a bizarre one it was too.
It was all Aleix Vidal’s making, as he capped a jigging run with a remarkably deft backheel to Luis Suárez at the near post. But although it looked like the Uruguayan had poked the ball in, replays revealed that he never actually made any contact and Gorka had knocked the ball into his own net. Barça 2-0 up, and both goals had come courtesy of Girona players!
Luis Suárez had been struggling with offside all game, but on 67 minutes he timed a perfect run to collect Sergi Roberto’s pass and finish off by celebrating his 100th league appearance with his 87th goal.
That was as good as job done for FCB. And as the blaugrana eased off the pressure for the final twenty, Girona seized their chance to push forward in search of a consolation goal.
Those gallant efforts were all in vain, and this historic first Liga clash between the sides ended with a very clear victor. It hadn’t been a vintage performance, but they had got the job done – and what’s more they were only an hour’s drive away from home!
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