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PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

Following the disappointment of Saturday's draw, the team were back to winning ways at Granada tonight, as they put in a practical performance at the Los Carmenes Stadium. In the first half, with Isaac Cuenca making 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, Granada closed 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 Cuenca both had shots wide in the early encounters.

Magnificent Xavi

Despite Barça's domination, Granada were holding out and reached the half hour mark with their goal intact, but soon after Xavi was 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 when Jaime was shown a second yellow for dangerous play. Barça were also to lose a player at the same time, as Pedro twisted his ankle in a nasty way and was replaced by David 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 by Mainz.

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 Benítez was also shown a second yellow. Xavi's goal proved enough for Barça to return to Barcelona with the three points.


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