Saturday October 29 2016
Barca edge past Granada

Rafinha scored the only goal of the game as Barcelona narrowly defeated a spirited Granada 1-0 in La Liga on Saturday.

Barca named a makeshift midfield, consisting of Denis Suarez and Rafinha, plus three canteranos on the bench as Blaugrana loanee Sergi Samper was a substitute for Granada, who also brought back Mehdi Carcela and Jon Toral from the wilderness.

It was a night of records for Barca as Luis Suarez was presented the Golden Boot for last season before the match and Javier Mascherano became the foreign player with the third most appearances for the Catalans.

However, the feel-good factor was short-lived as home fans chanted ‘Tebas, vete va’ and showed red cards on the 12th minute – a direct reference to La Liga chief Javier Tebas, who accused Blaugrana players of “embarrassing” themselves when a bottle was thrown at them at Valencia last week.

The first chance went to Granada and Gabriel Silva, who broke down the left and had only Marc-Andre ter Stegen to beat, but his shot was straight at the goalkeeper.

Lionel Messi then had a shot from inside the box saved by Guillermo Ochoa after he was teed up by Neymar, who then latched onto a through ball but was also denied by the goalkeeper from point-blank range, although the linesman had raised his offside flag.

Barca continued to dominate possession, but without Sergio Busquets conducting, their play was not as crisp as they would have liked.

Still, Ivan Rakitic glanced a free kick just wide of Ochoa from a left-wing delivery, before Samuel Umtiti powered a header from a corner straight at Ochoa.

A miss-of-the-season contender turned into a potential goal of the week just three minutes into the restart as Neymar hits the post from a yard out, before Rafinha overhead-kicked home, albeit from a matter of yards out.

Soon after, the ball dropped to Neymar to the left of Granada's penalty area, but his first-time shot deflected onto the roof of Ochoa’s net.

Granada looked to shake things up and brought off Manchester United-owned Andreas Pereira for Chelsea’s Jeremie Boga, while Samper made a cameo against his former club.

Indeed, Boga came closest to a Granada equaliser when he was released down the right, cut inside and only had Mascherano to beat, but he ended up dragging his shot well wide.

Back to Neymar, and the forward threw himself onto the end of Messi’s free kick but marginally failed to touch the ball past Ochoa.

Paco Alcacer, seconds after his late introduction, bent a delightful through ball for Messi, who attempted to lob an onrushing Ochoa, but the No 10 couldn't keep his effort down as Barca nonetheless held on for second place.

Barcelona 1-0 Granada

Rafinha 48

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Sergi, Mascherano, Umtiti, Digne; Rakitic, Denis (Gomes 71), Rafinha; Messi, Suarez (Alcacer 83), Neymar

Granada: Ochoa; Cuenca, Saunier, Lomban, Vezo, Silva; Carcelo, Toral (Samper 77), Agbo, Pereira (Boga 60); Kravets (Barral 72)

Referee: Martinez Munuera

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