Barcelona— Luis Suarez filled in for the suspended Lionel Messi by scoring one goal and participating in three more to keep Barcelona close to Spanish leader Real Madrid on Sunday,AP reports.
Barcelona’s 4-1 victory at 10-man Granada left the defending champions two points behind Madrid, which won 3-0 at home against Alaves earlier in the day. Madrid still has a game in hand.
Asked about his team’s impressive performance, despite Messi’s absence due to an accumulation of five yellow cards, coach Luis Enrique said “squads win titles.”
“We played a serious match. The game got complicated when they drew even on an isolated play, but we quickly resolved the situation and could establish the ample margin of victory that I think we deserved,” he said.
Suarez imposed himself on the match from the start, hitting the bar and forcing two good saves from Guillermo Ochoa before he chipped the ball over the goalkeeper a minute before halftime. Suarez’s goal was his 23rd in the league this season, leaving him second to Messi with 25.
After Granada leveled through substitute Jeremie Boga, Suarez turned playmaker by muscling off his marker and passing for substitute Paco Alcacer to beat Ochoa in the 64th. The little-used Alcacer made the most of his limited time, coming on in the first half after Rafinha injured his right knee.
A shot by Ivan Rakitic was deflected in by Matthieu Saunier in the 83rd, shortly after Granada’s Uche Agbo picked up a second booking. Suarez played a part in this goal too, when he tried to dribble past a defender who knocked the ball into Rakitic’s path.
Neymar capped the victory in stoppage time after Suarez passed for Alcacer, who then found the Brazilian alone to tap home. Neymar also hit the upright with the final kick of the match. Granada stayed in second-to-last place.