Messi brace rescues Barca
Barcelona maintained their lead at the top of the La Liga standings as they came back from behind to beat Granada 2-1 at Los Carmenes on Saturday night.
Nigerian forward Odion Ighalo opened the scoring for Granada midway through the first half but the visitors came back after the break with Lionel Messi scoring a brace.
The home side threatened as early as the 7th minute when former Barcelona player Nolito unleashed a volley from 12 yards out, but Victor Valdes made a good save to deny his former teammate.
Then in the 21st minute Barcelona thought they deserved a penalty when Cesc Fabregas went down inside the box under a challenge from Gabriel Torje, but the referee waved play on.
The opening goal arrived in the 26th minute when Carlos Aranda delivered a great cross towards the far post for Ighalo to nudge the ball into the open net from close range.
Three minutes later the visitors came close to leveling matters when Fabregas’ pass was cleared into the path of Adriano Correira, only for the Brazilian to drive his shot just wide of the top right corner.
The Catalans came close yet again in the 38th minute as Thiago Alcantara set the ball up for Messi inside the box, but the Argentine was denied by a good block from Granada goalkeeper Tono Rodriguez to keep his side in the lead at half time.
However, Barcelona did find the equaliser five minutes into the second half when Tono was unable to hold on to a powerful strike from Fabregas, allowing Messi to fire home from the rebound.
The visitors were unlucky not to take the lead in the 66th minute when Pedro Rodriguez drilled a low shot from outside the penalty area, but his effort came off the foot of the post with Tono well-beaten.
However, they did sneak ahead seven minutes later when they were awarded a freekick for a foul on Thiago; Messi stepped up and curled his shot into the back of the net, despite a slight touch from Tono.
Then in the 85th minute substitute Cristian Tello should’ve settled the game for Tito Vilanova’s side when he collected a pass from Andres Iniesta on the right, only to blast his shot over the crossbar.
The visitors were almost punished for that miss three minutes later when an Allan Nyom cross found Inigo Lopez unmarked at the far post, but he directed his header straight at Valdes.
The home side came even closer in the first minute of added time when substitutes Youssef El Arabi and Yacine Brahimi combined on the left, only for the latter to fired his shot just wide of the near post.
However, Barcelona finished the match strongly with Messi forcing a great save from Tono in the third minute of injury time, before Iniesta drilled his shot wide.