Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Barcelona battle back to beat Alaves

Barcelona reveal Philippe Coutinho's shirt number Philippe Coutinho will wear Barcelona’s No.14 shirt
| 29 January, 2018, 11:41

After a promising start from the home side, it was Alaves who took the lead against the run of play when the former Manchester City striker opened the scoring in the 23rd minute.

Alaves saw late penalty appeals against Barcelona center-back Samuel Umtiti rejected and protested to the officials after full-time, although Valverde dismissed their complaints.

Barca controlled the ball from the first minute but found Alaves' 4-4-2 formation a stubborn obstacle, and were made to wait until the 15th minute for a first sight of goal; Messi just failing to reach Suarez's low driven cross.

Messi secured the points for the La Liga leaders with a sublime free-kick.

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Digne; Rakitic, Paulinho, Iniesta; Coutinho; Messi, Suarez.

Alaves' upturn in form has left them two points above the relegation zone and coach Abelardo hopes they can continue that improvement at the Nou Camp.

Ruben Sobrino nearly doubled Alaves' advantage in the 27th minute with a clever effort from inside the Barcelona box, but Ter Stegen was on hand to make a smart save.


Coutinho's first taste of first-team action came midweek in Barca's Copa del Rey victory over Espanyol, and he will now have the chance to impress from kick-off in his first-ever Liga outing.

Ernesto Valverde opted for a change five minutes into the second half as Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba were introduced.

Messi came within inches of drawing his side level when his whipped free-kick was brilliantly turned against the post by Pacheo in the Alaves goal.

Pacheco then denied Paulinho from close range after Pique's flick had set up an excellent chance for the Brazilian.

Luis Suarez had broken the away side's tough resistance with a sweet volley from Andres Iniesta's cross 18 minutes from the end, setting the stage for Messi's dramatic and stylish victor.

Suarez fired over the away side's crossbar in the 77th minute, but Barcelona had their second in the 84th minute when Messi curled a wonderful free kick into the top corner of the net.

Messi was dispossessed just outside the Alaves box and Guidetti was sent clean through on goal, with the Swede slotting past Ter Stegen at his near post from 12 yards out.

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