Leganés 0-3 Barcelona LaLiga: goals, as it happened, match report
It wasn’t attractive. It was far from balletic. But Barcelona just keep marching on. Ernesto Valverde’s side applied further pressure on their LaLiga challengers with a hard-fought victory in the afternoon sun at Leganés.
Luis Suárez ended a 36-day barren run with an incisive double and Paulinho stabbed in the third goal after a scrappy spell of pinball in the box. The scoreline was a harsh reflection on Asier Garitano’s Leganés side, who defended compactly and troubled Barcelona on the break.
Ernesto Valverde gave Paco Alcácer another start in attack following his brace against Sevilla, and opted to continue with Gerard Piqué and Samuel Umtiti in the heart of the defence, despite the fact that both were one match away from a booking.
The match was attritional from the beginning. It took a calamitous goalkeeping error from Ivan Cuellar to allow Suárez to open the scoring on 28 minutes. The ‘keeper failed to gather Alcácer’s lively shot from the right. It dropped at the Uruguayan’s feet, and even in a rut of form, he could not miss.
Elation quickly turned to sourness as Gerard Piqué received a yellow card for a foul on the lively Nordin Amrabat. The centre-half will be suspended for a top-of-the-table clash against Valencia next weekend.
Amrabat and Alexander Szymanowsk both missed good chances to haul Leganés level, but it was Suárez who extended the visitors’ lead on the hour mark. Alcácer was the architect once again, forcing Cuellar to parry his shot towards Suárez. The No.9 contorted his body and displayed excellent technique to keep the ball down and shoot through a crowd of players. It cannoned off Rubén Pérez and in to the net. Suárez, who'd tangled with the keeper previously, celebrated right in his face.
Leganés kept pushing, urged on by their rambunctious home crowd. Amrabat went close again. So did Claudio Beauvue. Yet substitute Paulinho dealt a harsh blow to the home side when he closed the game out from close range after tenacious work by Messi.
This Barcelona side are difficult to evaluate. They keep accumulating points, but without really breaking out in to a rhythm. Is that the sign of a good team, or the sign of a team that is riding its luck? The longer this run stretches, the more it appears that the former is correct. Next week, Valencia will provide a true test.