Messi, Suarez fuel Barca comeback
30 January, 2018, 12:00 am
BARCELONA – Lionel Messi scored a spectacular free kick to give Barcelona a 2-1 win over struggling Alaves on Sunday while Luis Suarez was also on target as the Catalans battled back from a goal down at halftime to stay 11 points clear at the top of La Liga.
Alaves were the only team to win at the Nou Camp in the league last season and looked set to overshadow Philippe Coutinho’s first start for Barca when Sweden striker John Guidetti gave them a shock lead in the 23rd minute, falling over as he lashed the ball past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Suarez finally levelled for the Catalans in the 72nd minute, scoring for the eighth league game in a row after some impressive saves from visiting goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco had kept Barca at bay, while Messi’s sumptuous free kick in the 84th gave them a seventh consecutive league win.
Atletico Madrid overcame the absence of injured striker Diego Costa to beat Las Palmas 3-0 while Sevilla were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Getafe due to a controversial equaliser in injury time.
Barca top the standings with 57 points, 11 above nearest challengers Atletico and 19 ahead of champions Real Madrid, who roared back from their miserable start to 2018 with an impressive 4-1 win at third-placed Valencia on Saturday.
“If you don’t concentrate you don’t win and sometimes looking at the rival team’s position in the league does you no good,” Suarez told reporters.
“In the second half we understood what was at stake and we managed to get the three points.”