Full Time: Villarreal 0-2 Barcelona
Barcelona put an end to their run of back to back draws in the La Liga, when they defeated 10-man Villarreal 2-0, away from home, on Sunday night.
With rivals Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid all picking up points at the weekend, the league leaders could not afford to drop any points on Sunday.
However, a stubborn Villarreal side made things very difficult for the Catalans and it took as long as the 72nd minute for the breakthrough to arrive for Barca when Luis Suarez slotted home following a neat one-two with fellow striker Paco Alcacer. Star man Lionel Messi then made it 2-0 with seven minutes to spare on the clock, to guarantee all three points for his team on the day.
The result meant that the Blaugrana maintained their five-point lead at the top, over second-placed Valencia. And here’s how we rate the performances of Ernesto Valverde’s men on the night.
Barcelona Player Ratings
Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 8/10
Made a brilliant stop to deny Roberto Soriano in the first period and was secure when called into action after the break, with a save to stop Manu Trigueros particularly standing out.
Sergi Roberto – 6/10
Barcelona’s utility man did not offer a lot going forward, having started at right-back. But he was solid defensively and covered well for his teammates.
Gerard Pique – 7/10
Hit the crossbar in the 4th minute. Was assured at the back, dealing with the threat of Cedric Bakambu without any issues.
Thomas Vermaelen – 7.5/10
His resurgence at Barca continues. The former Arsenal man put in another strong and reliable display alongside Pique – tackled well, good positioning and was decent with the ball at his feet.
Jordi Alba – 8/10
Was a great outlet down the left-hand side as has been the case so often this season. Created numerous chances with his relentless forward forays, one of which Suarez struck the post from.
Ivan Rakitic – 6/10
Worked really hard in an unfamiliar role on the right-hand side. May not have offered a whole lot in the final third, but put in a shift defensively.
Sergio Busquets – 7/10
Shielded his backline admirably and released Messi for the second goal, after capitalising on a misplaced pass from the home side. Booked.
Paulinho – 5/10
One of the summer signing’s least impressive displays for the Catalans. The game passed him by for most of the time before he was taken off.
Denis Suarez – 5/10
Playing against his former club, Denis struggled to impact the proceedings a great deal. Combined well with Alba at times, but was wasteful.
Luis Suarez – 7/10
Struggled to get into the game, until he burst into life late on. Hit the post from Alba’s cross, before displaying great link-up with Alcacer to net the opening goal home.
Lionel Messi – 8/10
As is the norm, looked the most likely to score. Had a free-kick saved and two shots drifted just wide after some nice combination play with Alba. But he scored the second goal and made sure that the three points were in the bag.
Paco Alcacer – 7/10
Replaced Denis in the 58th minute and helped Barca step it up after the break. Laid on the assist for Suarez’s goal.
Aleix Vidal – 6/10
On for Paulinho in the 68th minute. Showed good attacking intent and tested the Villarreal goalkeeper on one occasion.
Andre Gomes – N/A
Late substitute for Busquets.