Barça close in on Madrid at top of La Liga

Barcelona moved to within a point of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga as Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi were on target in a 3-1 win at Granada on Saturday.

Barça close in on Madrid at top of La Liga
Photo: Jorge Guerrero / AFP

Ivan Rakitic opened the scoring for the visitors as he profited from a mishit Suarez shot before half-time and Suarez himself then prodded in the second just after the break.

Fran Rico's penalty briefly gave Granada hope, but Suarez teed up Messi to make the points safe 20 minutes from time.

Real can restore a four-point gap over the Catalans when they host Villarreal on Sunday.

Barca boss Luis Enrique rotated his squad once more as he made four changes from the side that beat Manchester City in midweek and it took Barca some time to get into their stride at Nuevo Los Carmenes.

Xavi was one of those returning to the starting line-up and he forced former Barca 'keeper Oier Olazabal into his first serious save from a rasping drive from the edge of the area.

Granada's offside trap frustrated Barca in the early stages, but they were caught flat-footed for the opener on 25 minutes as Luis Suarez was played in by Jordi Alba and the Uruguayan's mishit shot fell perfectly off the unfortunate Cala for Rakitic to slam home.

Messi came within inches of a stunning second 10 minutes before the break as he controlled the ball instantly on his left-foot before flashing a right-footed volley over the bar at the end of a flowing counter-attack.

However, the hosts were unlucky not to be level at half-time as the referee turned down huge penalty appeals when Dimitri Foulquier tumbled under pressure from Marc Bartra.

And moments later Claudio Bravo was forced into a stunning save to turn Javi Marquez's low shot behind for a corner.

Three minutes after the break, though, Suarez gave Barca the cushion they desired when he latched onto Rakitic's through ball and slotted home with the outside of his right foot.

Granada were handed a lifeline just four minutes later when this time Bartra was penalised for a foul on Lass Bangoura and Rico thumped the resultant spot-kick past Bravo.

Yet, in their push for an equaliser, Granada left more space in behind for Barcelona to exploit in the closing stages and were picked off again by a Rakitic pass into Suarez. The former Liverpool man then rode a challenge from Oier before squaring for Messi to roll the ball into the unguarded net.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


‘Diego is eternal’: Messi pays tribute to Maradona

Lionel Messi paid tribute to Diego Maradona on Wednesday by calling him "eternal" after his fellow Argentine died of a heart attack.

'Diego is eternal': Messi pays tribute to Maradona
Diego Maradona hugs Lionel Messi after 2010 World Cup quarter final Argentina vs Germany. Photo: AFP

“A very sad day for all Argentines and football,” Messi wrote on Instagram. “He has left us but he will never leave us because Diego is eternal. I will keep all the beautiful moments that I lived with him and would like to send my condolences to all his family and friends. RIP.”






A post shared by Leo Messi (@leomessi)

Messi and Maradona have often been compared in the debate about who was the greatest footballer of all time.

Both players are icons in Argentina and have been likened to each other due to their global status, dribbling style and famous number 10 shirts.    

Maradona was also Messi's coach during his brief time in charge of the national team, which included Argentina being thrashed by Germany in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals.

A banner held up during 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 25, 2014. Photo: AFP


Maradona spent two years at Barcelona, where Messi is now captain and the club's all-time top scorer, although Maradona's greatest years were spent with Napoli in Italy.

Asked about Maradona in 2010, Messi said: “Even if I played for a million years, I'd never come close to Maradona. Not that I'd want to anyway. He's the greatest there's ever been.”