Barcelona unconvincing 2-1 win v Alaves - Story of the match

Barcelona unconvincing 2-1 win v Alaves - Story of the match

Luis Suarez praised Philippe Coutinho's contribution in the 2-1 win over Alaves despite the midfielder's quiet full debut for Barcelona.

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.

Luis Suarez had broken the away side's tough resistance with a sweet volley from Andres Iniesta's cross 18 minutes from the end, setting the stage for Messi's dramatic and stylish victor. "If you don't concentrate you don't win, sometimes looking at the league positions of rival teams does you no good, in the second half we knew what we were playing for and we got the three points", said the Uruguay global. "In the second half we knew what we had to do and we got three points".

Alaves were lively throughout and could have added a second goal soon after going ahead, Ruben Sobrino seeing a chance clawed away, while Ruben Duarte was denied by Gerard Pique's block.

Alongside Lionel Messi and former Reds teammate Luis Suarez, Coutinho would have hoped for an easy ride against the side sitting 17 in the league.

"They [players] are not machines who can just go into a new factory and start to work immediately, but I saw him doing well, involved in the play, wanting the ball", said Valverde when asked about the Brazil playmaker's performance. I see it from a Barcelona perspective, of course, and I think that it was involuntary.

The visiting side deployed a high defensive line and although they managed to cause Atletico problems they paid the price for their risky approach when Griezmann latched on to a rolled pass from Juanfran to race unchallenged towards goal and score in the 61st minute.

Barca dominated possession but looked set for a frustrating night.

Espanyol were on the receiving end this time around as defender Mario Hermoso scored two own goals before pulling back a late consolation as the hosts won 3-2.

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