Two late goals give Barca the win

Xavi, Barcelona

A late Xavi Hernandez strike and an own goal handed Barcelona a narrow 2-0 win at the Camp Nou over Granada, with Toño pulling out all the stops in goal for the visitors.

David Villa made his first start in ten months for Barcelona, while Cesc Fabregas was also included in the starting line-up despite the rumours of his being unhappy.

Antonio Floro Flores tested Victor Valdes inside the first ten minutes but his diagonal shot was gathered by the ‘keeper, before Barcelona’s attack was halted for an offside call on Thiago Alcantara 17 minutes in.

Lionel Messi did well to header away a set-piece sent in by Granada on the 20 minute mark, while on the other end of the field the Argentine was at it again but his effort was saved by Toño.

Barcelona kept on poking around their goalmouth as they saw chance after chance being fought off. Frustrations started to boil between the players as Messi and Villa were both caught on camera having a heated exchange of words.

The start of the second half saw some better build up play by the home side, when Adriano crossed to Villa, who tried to round it past Toño, but he was equal to it.

Villa’s return to the line-up came to an end in the 53rd minute when Pedro Rodrigues came on for him, while Thiago made way for Xavi.

After picking up an injury Flores couldn’t continue on the field and it was Youssef El-Arabi who came on in his place, just before the hour mark.

The Camp Nou audience erupted in cheers for a penalty after a mix up between goalkeeper and players saw Alexis Sanchez go to ground, 15 minutes from time, but the referee waved play on.

Toño was a one man show for Granada as he repeatedly denied shots from the anxious Catalans forwards, before a rare attack at the other end of the field saw Valdes pulled off a great save from Orellana in the 84th minute.

The break through finally arrived, in the 86th minute, when the substitute Xavi cracked a half-volley, which struck the underside of the bar to fall into the goal.

All Toño’s hard work disappeared in the final minutes as an exceptionally unlucky own goal by Borja Gomes, off a Messi cross, saw the visitors crumble.