La Liga leaders Barcelona beat Las Palmas at the Estadio Gran Canaria to extend their lead at the top of La Liga. Goals from Luis Suarez and Neymar saw the Catalan club beat the side from Spain's Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa. Willian Jose had initially equalised for the home side before Barcelona took the lead again. The result was Barcelona’s 32nd unbeaten game in a row.
Las Palmas: Varas, Garcia, Artiles, Bigas, Garrido, Momo, Viera, Mesa, Tana, El Zhar, Jose
Barcelona: Bravo, Alves, Mascherano, Mathieu, Alba, Arda, Roberto, Iniesta, Neymar, Messi, Suarez
First Half: Barcelona take lead but fail to keep clean sheet again
Barcelona, playing in their blue kits, got off to a flyer and opened the scoring within five minutes. Jordi Alba sent in a low cross from the left flank which beat both the defenders and goalkeeper and Luis Suarez blasted the shot into the top corner to score his 25th league goal of the season, making him the front-runner for the European Golden Shoe.
However, the home side needed only four minutes to find the equaliser. Las Palmas midfielder Jonathan Viera provided a sumptuous back-heel assist to find Willian Jose. The Brazilian striker held off Dani Alves and side-footed it past an onrushing Claudio Bravo to make it 1-1.
But the visitors took the lead again before half-time when Neymar got on the scoresheet. Suarez did well to get rid of his marker near the goal line and sent in a cross for Lionel Messi who took his shot first time. Although the goalkeeper Javi Varas made a save, Neymar was there to clean up and smash home the rebound.
Half-time: Las Palmas 1-2 Barcelona
Second Half: Barcelona hang on for the win
Luis Enrique hauled Arda Turan off and brought on midfielder Ivan Rakitic to ensure the Turkish midfielder did not get a second booking. Suarez had a chance to score four minutes after the restart when Neymar’s ball to Alves was headed down to the Uruguayan’s striker’s path only to see Varas make a block.
Just after the hour mark, Sergi Roberto almost allowed Las Palmas to erase the deficit when he allowed Viera to send a curling shot goal bound but Bravo made the save. Jose pounced on the rebound but only managed to hit the side netting.
Most of the Barcelona players were not playing at 100%, probably under orders to conserve their energy ahead of a crucial match against Arsenal in the Champions League Round of 16. Messi and Andres Iniesta were not able to make the impact they usually make in spite of playing a team in the relegation zone.
Enrique then brought on Thomas Vermaelen for a rare appearance as Roberto made way. The substitution saw Mascherano move up to midfield as Barcelona looked to hold on while simultaneously look for a two-goal cushion.
In the 83rd minute, Mesa and Jose combined to set up Araujo. His low shot on goal was just wide of the post, much to the frustration of the home side. They came close again but Vermaelen came to the Catalan club’s rescue with a diving header.
Four minutes of stoppage time saw both sides try and score on the counter-attack but the defence and goalkeepers did their job and Barcelona hung on to win 2-1 and extended their lead to nine points with Atletico Madrid to play on Sunday night.
Bayern Munich 3-1 Darmstadt 98
The Bundesliga leaders were given a scare when Darmstadt took a first-half lead through Sandro Wagner. The German striker had opened the scoring in the 26th minute to give the team from the lower half of the table an unexpected lead.
However, the Bavarian giants soon hit back in the second half as Thomas Muller grabbed a brace. His first goal was scored just after the restart as he scored under pressure from inside the box.
His second goal to put the hosts ahead was scored in the 71st minute when he chested an Arturo Vidal lob and then scored with an overhead kick. Robert Lewandowski then scored the third to seal all three points after the visitors committed bodies forward.
The win puts Pep Guardiola’s side 11 points ahead with Borussia Dortmund set to play Bayer Leverkusen tomorrow.Published 20 Feb 2016, 21:34 IST