La Liga review: Stunning strike by Xavi as Barcelona win again

 

A stunning 87th-minute goal from substitute Xavi set Barcelona on their way to a hard-fought 2-0 Primera Division victory over Granada at the Nou Camp this evening.

The Catalan giants had looked to be on the verge of dropping their first points under new coach Tito Vilanova as the visitors defended resolutely - and themselves looked dangerous on the counter-attack.

But Xavi, a 53rd-minute replacement for Thiago Alcantara, finally broke the deadlock with a sublime goal three minutes from time, latching onto the ball on the edge of the box and bending a brilliant shot with the outside of his right foot into the top-left corner via the bar.

It was tough on Granada, whose goalkeeper Tono had been in inspired form throughout, and their dismay was complete in stoppage time when Borja Gomez put through his own net from Lionel Messi's cross.

The win saw Barca maintain their 100% start in La Liga, extending their early-season advantage over champions Real Madrid - who visit Rayo Vallecano tomorrow night - to 11 points.

Earlier today in the Spanish top flight, Junior Paulao's goal was enough for Real Betis to climb to third with a 1-0 victory - their third win in four games - against lowly Espanyol, who had midfielder Wakaso Mubarak sent off for a second bookable offence midway through the second half.

On-loan Arsenal striker Park Chu-Young came off the bench to score the winner as Celta Vigo defeated Getafe 2-1 at Balaidos.

Augusto Fernandez fired home the opener 12 minutes after the interval only for Abdel Barrada to rattle in an equaliser two minutes later, but it was the South Korean who had the final say when he converted at the back post 22 minutes from time. The visitors ended the game with 10 men as Alexis was sent off for striking Hugo Mallo.

Real Zaragoza recorded their first win over bottom-of-the-table Osasuna in five years with an entertaining 3-1 victory at La Romareda.

Helder Postiga had given the hosts an early lead with a neat finish after four minutes, but Emiliano Armenteros brought Osasuna level 25 minutes later.

The game swung back in Zaragoza's favour, though, moments before the break when David Timor put through his own net and Apono secured all three points from the penalty spot 19 minutes from time.

PA

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