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Barcelona sweep aside Villarreal to keep title hopes alive

Pin Antoine Griezmann netted in Barca's 1-4 win at Villarreal. AFP
Antoine Griezmann netted in Barca's 1-4 win at Villarreal. AFP

Barcelona sweep aside Villarreal to keep title hopes alive

Paul Singh by Paul Singh @besoccer_com - 0 5,419

Goals from Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann and Ansu Fati helped Barcelona win 1-4 at Villarreal at the La Ceramica stadium in La Liga. A Pau Torres own goal had put Barca 0-1 up early on and Gerard Moreno scored the only goal for the home team. Barca remain four points behind Real Madrid.

Barcelona went into the match at Villarreal seven points behind Real Madrid following Madrid's 0-1 win after Athletic Bilbao earlier on Sunday. Quique Setien's men had to win and they showed they are still in the title race after a comprehensive 1-4 victory over Villarreal at La Ceramica stadium. 

The visitors were 0-1 up inside three minutes when Jordi Alba's cross was turned into his own net by Pau Torres. Gerard Moreno surprisingly levelled for the home side 10 minutes later, but Luis Suarez restored Barca's lead with 20 minutes on the clock. On the stroke of half-time, Griezmann chipped goalkeeper Asenjo from the edge of the box to make it 1-3 at the break. In the second half, Messi saw a goal disallowed by VAR and then  Ansu Fati scored late on to round off the win.

Quique Setien's men put in one of their best performances of the season and they dominated from start to finish. Barca found an early lead after Pau Torres' own goal when Griezmann was behind him to tap in and Barca were in complete control for most of the contest. Arturo Vidal could have scored in the 10th minute, but then Villarreal levelled for the hosts. Chukwueze's long pass found Alcacer who passed to Cazorla and his shot across Ter Stegen was saved and Moreno was there to tap in the rebound. 

Sergio Asenjo had to make a fine save to prevent Vidal scoring at his near post and then Pique could have scored before Luis Suarez made it 1-2. Messi chested the ball down in the centre-circle and went past Anguissa before giving the ball to Suarez and he curled it into the far corner. 

Carlos Bacca almost levelled eight minutes before the break when his shot was tipped over by Ter Stegen, but Barca continued to threaten at the other end. Then, just before the half-time interval, Griezmann gave Barca a two goal cushion. Suarez played a one-two with Semedo and then Messi went into the box before backheeling to Griezmann who lobbed Asenjo from the edge of the box. It was similar to Messi's goal at Betis earlier in the season. 

Barca were extremely comfortable in the second half and Asenjo had to make a couple of fine saves before the hour mark to prevent Griezmann and Suarez getting Barca's fourth. Then, in the 69th minute, Messi thought he had made it 1-4, but Arturo Vidal was offside in the build up and the goal was chalked off by the VAR. 

Chukwueze had an effort 14 minutes from time, but it was easily stopped by Ter Stegen while Braithwaite nearly made it 1-4 five minutes later.,Then Barca did make it 1-4 in the 86th minute when Jordi Alba found Fati and he cut inside before seeing his shot deflected off the defender's foot. 

There was still time for Lionel Messi to strike the crossbar with a free-kick in injury time and then Braithwaite was denied with a header by Asenjo on the rebound. It was a fully deserved win for Barca who are now four points behind Real Madrid while Villarreal remain fifth, three points off Sevilla in the final Champions League spot.

Paul Singh

Paul Singh

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