Paulinho saves Barca against plucky Getafe

Stabroek News Sunday - - SUNDAY SPORT -

MADRID, (Reuters) - Barcelona snatched a late 2-1 win at Getafe with Paulinho’s strike send­ing them seven points clear of arch-ri­vals Real Madrid at the top of La Liga yes­ter­day.

The Brazil­ian mid­fielder’s sign­ing was widely crit­i­cised by sup­port­ers but he ran on to Li­onel Messi’s pass, drove into the area and fired home with six min­utes re­main­ing to pre­serve Barcelona’s 100 per­cent record in the league.

Later Atletico Madrid cel­e­brated the in­au­gu­ra­tion of their new sta­dium with a 1-0 win over Malaga, An­toine Griez­mann’s 60th-minute goal de­light­ing the sell-out Wanda Metropoli­tano.

At the Coli­seum Al­fonso Perez, Gaku Shibasaki scored a mag­nif­i­cent vol­ley to put Getafe ahead in the 39th minute but an­other sub­sti­tute, De­nis Suarez, equalised for Barcelona in the 62nd.

“It’s im­por­tant for them (Suarez and Paulinho) from a per­sonal point of view. It gives them con­fi­dence,” said Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde.

“Them scor­ing shows that the squad has depth and that we have a lot of play­ers who can con­trib­ute. Both of them get for­ward and they both have goals in them.”

Barcelona were dealt a blow when record sign­ing Ous­mane Dem­bele was forced off with a ham­string in­jury in the 29th minute.

“We think it’s a tear but we will do more tests to­mor­row,” said Valverde. “It’s a shame be­cause he was just get­ting up to scratch with the team’s dy­namic. We hope he won’t be out for a long time.”

Suarez was in­tro­duced at half­time, after cap­tain An­dres Ini­esta had made lit­tle im­pact, and soon made his pres­ence felt.

Re­ceiv­ing the ball from Sergi Roberto in the area, Suarez curled a neat fin­ish past Guaita to level, against the run of play.

Paulinho came on in the 77th minute and seven min­utes later he slammed home to put Barcelona ahead and ex­tend their lead at the top of the ta­ble.

“Those are my qual­i­ties, ar­riv­ing from deep to score goals. I am re­ally happy with the pass from Leo and with the win­ning goal,” said Paulinho. At the Metropoli­tano, an open­ing cer­e­mony in­volv­ing parachutists and re­minders of Atletico’s his­tory and pre­vi­ous homes, in­clud­ing the Vi­cente Calderon, gave way to a tight match.

Bot­tom-of-the-ta­ble Malaga held their own but even­tu­ally Atletico’s pres­sure told, with An­gel Cor­rea beat­ing his man on the right and cross­ing for Griez­mann to fire home from close range.

Cham­pi­ons Real Madrid, who are ly­ing 11th, travel to sec­ond-placed Real So­ciedad to­day.

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