Lionel Messi's Late Goal Gives Barcelona Narrow Win vs. Granada

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 19, 2020

Barcelona's Argentine forward Lionel Messi (L) celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Spanish league football match between FC Barcelona and Granada FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on January 19, 2020. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP) (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)
LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Lionel Messi scored the only goal of the game as Barcelona beat 10-man Granada 1-0 in La Liga on Sunday at the Camp Nou in new manager Quique Setien's first game in charge.

The hosts dominated the first half but could not find a way past Rui Silva in the Granada goal. Ansu Fati blazed a good opportunity over the crossbar, while Messi swept an effort just past the post shortly before half-time.

Granada were reduced to 10 men in the second half when German Sanchez picked up his second yellow card of the match for a foul on the Barcelona captain.

The hosts took full advantage of their extra man to snatch all three points. Antoine Griezmann and Arturo Vidal combined to find Messi in the penalty area, and the Argentinian calmly stroked the ball past Silva to send Barca back to the top of the table.

Setien made changes to his Barcelona team after replacing Ernesto Valverde in the hotseat. Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was back after a knee injury, Arturo Vidal replaced the suspended Frenkie de Jong, and Ansu Fati came in for the injured Luis Suarez in attack.

Granada boss Diego Martinez also made changes to his side, bringing in Dimitri Foulquier, Maxime Gonalons, Alvaro Vadillo and Ramon Azeez for Carlos Neva, Angel Montoro, Antonio Puertas and Roberto Soldado.

Barcelona controlled the game and dominated possession in the first half but struggled to carve out clear chances and work goalkeeper Rui Silva.

Teenager Ansu fired a shot over the bar after some good interplay between Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba, while the captain floated a free-kick over the bar four minutes later.

Antoine Griezmann then produced a fine cross for Fati at the far post, but the youngster somehow failed to connect with the ball.

The Camp Nou crowd thought they had witnessed the first goal of Setien's reign just before the break. Alba cut the ball back for Messi to fire a low shot fractionally wide of the post.

Opta noted Barca's dominance in possession:

Messi curled another chance wide at the start of the second half after swapping passes with Fati, but Barca continued to labour in front of goal and were fortunate not to go behind just after the hour mark.

Sergi Roberto was guilty of giving the ball away inside his own half, allowing Granada to work the ball to Yan Eteki. The midfielder tried his luck with a powerful low effort that beat the diving Ter Stegen but smacked against the base of the post.

The visitors then suffered a blow when Sanchez picked up his second yellow card of the match for a foul on Messi, leaving Granada to play out the last 20 minutes a man down.

Setien also made a change to his team by bringing on 20-year-old Riqui Puig for Ivan Rakitic, and the youngster played a role in Barca's goal by winning the ball back for the hosts high up the pitch.

Antoine Griezmann and Arturo Vidal then combined to set up Messi to stroke home his 14th La Liga goal of the season:

The win sees Setien enjoy a winning start to his tenure as Barcelona boss. The Catalan giants dominated the ball and looked bright in possession, but the new boss will want to see more of a cutting edge from his side.

    

What's Next?

Both teams are in Copa del Rey action on Wednesday. Barcelona play away at Ibiza, while Granada travel to Badalona.

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