Paulinho saves Barca against plucky Getafe

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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 drove into the area and fired home to pre­serve Barcelona’s 100 per­cent record in the league.

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. Ernesto Valverde’s side strug­gled to cre­ate many open­ings against a bold Getafe, who came close to open­ing the scor­ing when Ger­ard Pique nearly de­flected Shibasaki’s cross into his own net, with Jorge Molina reach­ing it but fir­ing into the side net­ting.

Barcelona were dealt a blow when record sign­ing Ous­mane Dem­bele was forced off with a ham­string in­jury in the 29th minute, while his re­place­ment Ger­ard Deulofeu had lit­tle im­pact. Sa­muel Umtiti’s header straight at Vi­cente Guaita was as close as the Cata­lans came to net­ting in the first half, with the ex­cep­tion of a Lionel Messi free kick tipped over just be­fore the break.

Suarez was in­tro­duced at half time, 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. Getafe al­most equalised with Marc-An­dre ter Ste­gen tip­ping Mauro Aram­barri’s ef­fort wide at the near post, but they were left with­out re­ward af­ter an im­pres­sive dis­play. Cham­pi­ons Real Madrid, who are ly­ing 10th, travel to sec­ond­placed Real So­ciedad to­day. — Reuters

GETAFE: Barcelona’s de­fender from Spain Jordi Alba (R) vies with Getafe’s mid­fielder from Morocco Fay­cal Fajr (L) dur­ing the Span­ish league foot­ball match Getafe CF vs FC Barcelona at the Col. Al­fonso Perez sta­dium in Getafe yes­ter­day. — AFP

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