Las Palmas vs. Barcelona: Winners and Losers from La Liga

Michael CummingsWorld Football Lead WriterFebruary 20, 2016

Las Palmas vs. Barcelona: Winners and Losers from La Liga

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    Barcelona's Lionel Messi fights for the ball against Las Palmas' Pedro Bigas, left, during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Las Palmas and Barcelona, at the Gran Canaria stadium in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria island, Spain, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. (
    Lucas de Leon/Associated Press

    Barcelona moved nine points clear atop La Liga with a nervy 2-1 victory over Las Palmas on Saturday.

    Luis Suarez fired Barca ahead in the sixth minute, but Willian Jose pulled the hosts level just four minutes later. Las Palmas continued to pose a threat throughout the match, but Barcelona netted the winner six minutes before half-time as Neymar slammed in from close range.

    Here, Bleacher Report selects winners and losers from the match.

Winner: Luis Suarez

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    JAIME REINA/Getty Images

    Suarez scored another goal on Saturday, bringing his total to 25 in La Liga for the season.

    That's the most of any player in Spain's top flight, with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo four goals behind in second place. In addition, Suarez is the leading scorer in Europe's top five leagues, currently sitting one goal ahead of Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain.

    In his last nine matches, the Uruguayan has netted 15 goals. In all competitions, he's notched an impressive 41 strikes.

    And yet, as we'll see in the next slide, this wasn't his best day.

Loser: Luis Suarez

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Another goal was nice, but Suarez really should have scored at least one—and perhaps three—more.

    In the 27th minute, the Uruguayan found himself unmarked on a free-kick, but he managed to head wide from close range.

    Shortly after half-time, Dani Alves nodded down a cross into Suarez's path, but the striker scuffed his shot straight at Javi Varas.

    Finally, in the 70th minute, Jordi Alba freed Suarez on the left for yet another chance. This time, Barca's No. 9 miskicked his shot and failed to beat Varas again.

    On any other day, you'd expect Suarez to bury at least one of those chances. If he'd done so, Barcelona would have been much more comfortable in this one.

    Instead, the Catalans had to endure a nervy day against Las Palmas' lively attackers.

Winner: Jonathan Viera

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    JAIME REINA/Getty Images

    Speaking of Las Palmas' lively attackers, Jonathan Viera produced what was probably the best moment of the match with a brilliant flick to set up the home side's lone goal in the 10th minute.

    Accepting a pass from Tana with his back to goal, Viera tried an audacious back-flick that actually worked. His pass found Jose, who stayed on side, held off Alves and fired into the net past Claudio Bravo.

    It was an outrageous piece of skill, and it briefly brought Las Palmas level. Unfortunately, the hosts couldn't ever find another goal, which was a shame—they thrilled spectators all day with their fearless attacking play. 

Winner: Andres Iniesta

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    Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Andres Iniesta returned to Barca's starting XI on Saturday and played a key role in the visitors' opening goal. Suarez applied the final touch, and Alba supplied the assist, but Iniesta unlocked the opposition with a brilliant pass on the left.

    As we've come to expect over the years, Iniesta surveyed the scene expertly before placing the perfect amount of weight on the ball he sent to Alba. From there, the left-back had a relatively simple task in crossing for Suarez.

    That wasn't all Iniesta did, either. As noted by Squawka on Twitter, the Spain international completed an eye-watering 97 percent of his passes along with two take-ons and two interceptions.

    Like usual, Iniesta was top-class for Barcelona.

Winner: Quique Setien

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    Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

    Las Palmas entered the weekend sitting in the relegation zone, one point adrift of safety. Based on this performance, however, you wouldn't have known it.

    Against their much more illustrious visitors, Los Amarillos played with absolutely no fear, attacking from the first whistle until the last. Along the way, they gave Barcelona plenty of problems, especially when moving forward at pace.

    One quick look at the match statistics reveals this was no ordinary Barcelona game. The visitors held just under 52 percent of possession, a surprisingly low figure for them, especially against a relegation-threatened side. Meanwhile, Las Palmas took more shots (16-13) and completed more key passes (11-9) than Barca (stats via WhoScored.com).

    If they keep playing like this, Las Palmas should have no trouble staying in the top flight.