Barca late show sinks Granada

Barcelona’s 100 per cent start to the season was almost ended by a stubborn Granada, until two late goals.

The southern side had travelled 18 times previous in the League to Barcelona’s home and had lost on each occasion, but were on the verge of a historic point on Saturday thanks in the main to goalkeeper Tono.

Team news saw Marc Bartra miss out on a place in Barca’s defence in favour of Alex Song, whilst David Villa made his first start since breaking his leg last December. Granada welcomed back defender Borja Gomez after suspension.

After an uncertain start in the heart of their defence, Barcelona found some semblance with extensive possession, but struggled for the finer passes in the final third against a tight Granada set-up.

It was midway through the first half before Tono was tested in the Andalusians’ goal, with Cesc Fabregas trying a low shot from inside the D that he was able to smother.

At the other end, Granada looked a threat with some quick play looking to counter the Catalans. Guilherme Siqueira’s run into the Barca penalty area that was found by Brahimi forced a corner in the visitors’ clearest chance on the half hour mark.

The home side continued to press and improve as Lionel Messi had a couple of shots blocked, but still the only real save from Tono before the break came through Gomez’ headed interception from a cross that forced him to push the ball over the bar.

An improvised effort from Villa and a Song header from a set-play early in the second half suggested that Barca’s persistence was beginning to have an effect, but Tito Vilanova still decided with a double substitution less than 10 minutes in.

Barca continued to press, forced a couple of late interceptions from in front of Granada’s goal and should have gone ahead when Dani Alves played a slide rule pass into Messi’s feet, but the Argentine’s low effort was saved by Tono in the clearest chance of the game to that point.

The home side upped the tempo with 15 minutes to play, produced a couple of penalty shouts and saw Fabregas draw another strong save from Tono to keep the score 0-0.

Tono was again in the way when Cristian Tello’s low cross perfectly teed up fellow substitute Xavi Hernandez for the side-foot effort.

Granada had a huge chance to grab a goal themselves, but Fabian Orellana hit his effort straight against Victor Valdes when played one-on-one, whilst Messi almost immediately then drew another excellent save from Tono at the other end.

However, Tono’s heroics proved in vain, as Xavi popped up with a top-corner half-volley to earn the late win. That lead was then doubled as Gomez turned a cross into his own net as the clock ticked over into stoppages.

Barcelona 2-0 Granada

Scorers: Xavi 87 (B) Gomez og 91 (B)

Barcelona: Valdes; Alves, Song, Mascherano, Adriano (Tello 73); Cesc, Busquets, Thiago (Xavi 54); Alexis, Messi, Villa (Pedro 54)

Granada: Tono; Nyom, Inigo Lopez, Borja Gomez, Siqueira; Iriney, Mikel Rico; Torje (Juanma 66), Brahimi (Jaime 75), Orellana; Floro Flores (El Arabi 58)

Ref: Del Cerro Grande

La Liga - Club News