A 90th minute Luis Suarez goal earned Barcelona a dramatic win as they edged a struggling Rayo Vallecano side 3-2 in La Liga.
The visitors made a fast start and it took them just 10 minutes to get their noses in front. Jordi Alba found himself in some space on the left side of the six yard box, before cutting the ball back to an on-rushing Suarez who neatly tucked the ball past Alberto Garcia and into the bottom corner.
Despite going behind, the home side grew into the game and missed a golden opportunity on the half hour mark to draw level after Jose Pozo’s effort narrowly missed the target. However, Pozo redeemed himself just five minutes later with a fantastic strike from the edge of the area, beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen at his far post to get his side back on level terms at 1-1.
It was then Vallecano who took a shock lead 15 minutes into the second half after Raul De Tomas’ header came off the inside of the post and landed at the feet of substitute Alvaro Garcia – having only been on the pitch a matter of seconds – who then tucked the ball into an empty net to give La Liga’s 19th placed side a shock lead against the league leaders.
After a sustained spell of pressure, Barcelona finally found their equaliser as substitute Ousmane Dembele coolly slotted home with three minutes remaining, before who else but Suarez got on the end of a searching Sergi Roberto cross at the back post and tapped home to get a very late winning goal.
Starting XI: Garcia (5); Advincula (6), Amat (5), Galvez (7), Moreno (6); Imbula (6), Comesana (6), Trejo (6); Embarba (6), Pozo (7), De Tomas (6).
Substitutes: Garcia (8), Alegria (5), Velazquez (6).
Key Talking Point
After what was arguably Barcelona’s finest performance of the season last week when they beat bitter rivals Real Madrid 5-1 in El Clasico at the Nou Camp, the Barcelona side today looked a shadow of that team.
After they went ahead after 10 minutes it looked like it was going to be a formality for Ernesto Valverde’s men, however it proved to be anything but that. Vallecano caused the defence problems on the counter attack all game and took a shock lead, with Barca struggling to create any clear cut chances in the second half.
Barca showed character to come back from behind with two late goals, however it was far from a perfect performance from the league leaders and there’ll be plenty to work on in training this coming week.
Starting XI: ter Stegen (6); Roberto (8), Pique (8), Lenglet (6), Alba (7); Arthur (6), Busquets (6), Rakitic (6); Rafinha (7), Suarez (9*), Coutinho (6).
Substitutes: Dembele (8), Munir (7), Vidal (6).
STAR MAN – He’s been on red hot form in recent weeks, and Suarez continued to impress helping his side to another win. He bagged his fifth and sixth goals in his last three La Liga games with a real poacher’s effort, and could’ve made it seven had it not been for the upright denying what would’ve been a fine effort from the edge of the area.
It was the second league game Barcelona have been without their star man Lionel Messi who continues to recover from injury however with Barcelona needing someone to step up and deliver, Suarez has done just that. He was the best player on the pitch and his late winner earned his side a valuable three points after it looked very unlikely at one stage.
WORST PLAYER – He has had a brilliant season to date, however it was a night to forget for Philippe Coutinho. He struggled to create any clear cut chances and rather uncharacteristically gave the ball away cheaply on a number of occasions.
I think it’s one of Coutinho’s worst performances in a Barça shirt. If not the worst. Better days for him will come. Like way better days
— Ahmad (@ahmadf_o) November 3, 2018
No body hates him more than i do but today has nothing to do with valverde.. Its all on the players.. They simply did not do anything to warrant a win.. Disgusting performance from all except Mats.. Especially coutinho
— Salid y disfrutad (@hgc00) November 3, 2018
Really thought Coutinho would shine in the absence of Messi but his prolly been our worst performer since Leo got injured
— Gastro (@Gastro_o) November 3, 2018
He couldn’t inspire a comeback for his team whilst on the pitch after they went behind, and his disappointing night was brought to an abrupt end with 20 minutes left after he was subbed off with his side needing a goal. Not his finest performance in a Barcelona shirt.
The win was Barcelona’s fifth successive in all competitions, and Valverde will be hoping his men can extend that run to six games when they take on Inter at San Siro in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
As for Rayo Vallecano, they’ll be bitterly disappointed not to come away with anything after what was a courageous performance, however they’ll take plenty of positives heading into their clash with Villarreal in La Liga on Sunday.