Barcelona back to winning ways

La Liga leaders Barcelona maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a 2-0 victory over 10-man Villarreal at La Ceramica on Sunday.

Villarreal 0 Barcelona 2

  • Pique hits crossbar early on
  • Raba dismissed in second half
  • Suarez finally puts Barca ahead
  • Messi extends lead in latter stages

Match Summary

The Yellow Submarine made life difficult for Ernesto Valverde’s side up until the hour mark when Dani Raba was red-carded for a studs-up challenge on Sergio Busquets.

Barca would make the extra man count 12 minutes later with the opener from Luis Suarez before Lionel Messi sealed the win seven minutes from time, which saw them remain five points clear of Valencia.

Full Report

The visitors were looking to bounce back from successive draws against Los Che and Celta Vigo in the league, and they almost got off to a flying start as Gerard Pique thumped a header against the crossbar from a fourth-minute corner.

Villarreal weren’t without their chances, though, and Roberto Soriano forced Marc-Andre ter Stegen into a sharp save with his first-time shot from Mario Gaspar’s cross on the right in the 16th minute.

Sergio Asenjo had to be alert at the other end to keep out Messi’s free-kick at his right post on 22 minutes, while Soriano was just unable to make contact with Raba’s dangerous cross from the right four minutes later.

The Italian combined with Cedric Bakambu on 36 minutes before firing wide of the right post from 20 yards out, and Messi threatened two minutes later with a strike from inside the D that flashed wide of the left post.

Javier Calleja would have been happy with the shift his players put in before the break, but their task was made that much harder with the dismissal of Raba on 60 minutes for a poor tackle on Busquets.

Messi had gone close just moments earlier with a shot that flew wide of the right post from Jordi Alba’s cut-back, while Suarez could only hit the upright from close range out after getting on the end of the left-back’s low cross on 67 minutes.

However, the Uruguayan broke the deadlock five minutes later with a good finish as he played a one-two with Paco Alcacer and rounded Asenjo smartly before slotting home from six yards out.

The hosts looked to respond with Trigueros and Rodri working Ter Stegen in quick succession on 76 minutes, while Suarez should have done better when he volleyed wide at the back post from Messi’s dinked pass over the top on 81 minutes.

It mattered little, though, as Messi doubled Barca’s lead moments later following a mistake in defence, which saw Busquets play in the unmarked Argentine, who beat two men before shooting past Asenjo from seven yards out.

Asenjo was well placed to keep out Suarez’s free-kick at his left post in the final minute, while Aleix Vidal failed to make the home keeper pay for carelessly giving away possession in stoppage time his shot from a narrow angle saved.