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LALIGA

Suárez and Aleña give Barcelona win over Alavés in LaLiga

Suárez and Aleña give Barcelona win over Alavés in LaLiga

Alavés gave it their best but a neat finish from the Barça youngster and a controversially-awarded penalty for the Uruguayan secured all three points.

Alavés vs Barcelona: match report

Barcelona are now just three points away from clinching the LaLiga title after Ernesto Valverde’s side comfortably saw off Alavés 2-0 at the Mendizorrotza Stadium, thanks to second half goals from Carles Aleña and Luis Suarez.

Barcelona dominated possession in the first but failed to really trouble Pacheco’s goal. The best chance in the first period fell to Suarez in the sixth minute, when Coutinho released him with a clever ball into the box. But the Uruguayan could only manage to hit the ball straight at the Alaves keeper, as he did with a similar opportunity in the opposite side of the box around the half-hour mark.

But with all the Barcelona pressure, a goal always felt imminent and it inevitably came in the 54th minute, when Suarez played a clever dummy to allow the ball to roll under his legs towards Aleña just ahead of him inside the box. And the Spaniard took one touch before slotting it into the left corner to give his side the lead.

The visitors had their second goal just seven minutes later, after they won a penalty for VAR-deemed handball by Pina inside the six-yard box. With Messi sitting on the bench, Suarez stepped up to the spot and drove it into the bottom right corner to put the game virtually past an underwhelming Alavés, who continued to struggle as Barcelona went into cruise control.

Messi came on moments after the penalty and typically controlled the rest of the game, hitting the post from a shot from a tight angle in the 69th minute, after he rounded two defenders with ease. Barcelona continued to threaten until the end but a third goal didn’t materialise. Two goals, however, were more than enough to see off Alavés, who had a few chances of their own and gave it their best against a much more powerful Barca outfit.  

Ernesto Valverde’s side face Levante at home on Saturday, where a win will hand them the league title with a few games to spare.

Alavés vs Barcelona: as it happened

95' Peep, peep, peep! And that's the end of game. ALAVES 0-2 BARCELONA. 

94' Late booking for Alaves' Pina for a late challenge on Coutinho. 

90'   Messi dictating the play here. The Argentine spreads a simple ball to his left to Coutinho as the two front men rush towards the Alaves box. Coutinho hits it first time but it's a poor effort. Messi throws his hands up in the air in disbelief. 

85'   Coutinho glides a beautiful ball over the defence and into the path of the oncoming Sergi Roberto, who, inside the box, tries a first-time pass on the volley towards Messi, but an Alaves defender does well to clear the danger before Messi can get a foot to it. That pass from Coutinho was truly a thing of beauty.  

81' Alaves change: Jony comes off to a standing ovation. He's been notably the home side's best player tonight. In his place, on comes the Swede John Guidetti. 

77'   Chance Barca! On the edge of the right side of the box, Suarez chips a lovely cross towards Vidal by the far post. The Chilean jumps high to beat his man and heads it just over the left upright.  

75'   Chance Alaves! Vidal plays an awful ball backwards towards Pique, allowing Jony to gather in Barcelona's third. The Alaves midfielder has a pop from distance. It's a great effort but just wide of Ter Stegen's left post.

69'   First chance falls to Messi! The Argentine beats two defenders and does incredibly well to turn his body, shoot and hit the the left post from a difficult angle close to the byline.

69'   Barcelona are in cruise control now. 

62'   And if things couldn't get any worse for Alaves: Lionel Messi has just come on for Dembele.

61' PENALTY FOR BARCELONA IS SCORED BY SUAREZ!!! The Uruguayan drives it low and hard into the bottom right corner, leaving Pacheco with no chance. 2-0 to the visitors. 

59'   Barcelona have scored again through Pique! However, after a VAR review, the goal has been deemed offside but the ref has called a penatly for an Alaves handball in the build-up.  

54' GOAL BARCELONA!!! Luis Suarez does cleverly to play a dummy as the ball comes towards him just outside the box. The Uruguayan allows the ball to roll under his legs to Aleña just ahead of him, who takes one touch before slotting it into the left corner. 

50'   Alaves clear their lines from the Barca corner and break quickly. Jony has a chance to deliver a ball towards his on-rushing team mates in the box, but he overhits it and the ball sails over the byline. Chance wasted for the hosts! 

48'   Dembele is taken down by Ely as he glided past him just outside the Alaves box. And now Barca have a free kick in a dangerous position. Suarez takes the free kick and the ball deflects out for a corner. 

46' Alaves change: Brasanac has come on Rolan, who pulled a hamstring right at the end of the first half.

46'   Barcelona get the second half underway!

There is one man on the Barca bench who could perhaps open the scoring for the visitors. He has scored just two league goals less than the whole Alaves team all season.  

Well it hasn't been the most exciting of games. Barcelona have dominated possession (23%-77%) but haven't made too many clear chances. 

46'   Roland has pulled up as he tried to chase a ball played into his path by Jony. He's on the floor, as the ref blows for half time. We're unsure if the Alaves midfielder will be back out for the second half. But he did signal to the bench to take him off.

41'   Another chance for Alavés! A fine free kick delivery from deep finds Ely inside the right side of the box. He tries to guide a header over Ter Stegen from 10 yards out, but it's sailed just over the bar.  

36'   Chance Alavés! Ely gets his head on the end of a long throw-in, nodding it forward towards Baston. The ball lands just in front of Ter Stegen's goal as Baston tried to get a leg on it, but the Barca keeper got their first.  

35'   Jony is involved in another incident with Pique, who is now on the floor receiving attention. As the Barca captain came in with a perfectly timed sliding tackle to stop Jony in his tracks, the Alaves player came down on his head with his leg. It did look unintentional however and Alaves will have the throw in.  

33' Jony picks up a yellow for protesting over what he felt was a foul by Vidal as he tried to round him close to Barca's penalty area. The home crowd are not liking that.  

31'   Half hour gone here, with Barcelona having enjoyed more than 80 percent of the possession. But they have yet to really threaten Pacheco's goal. 

29'   Chance Barcelona! Dembele releases Suarez down the right. The Uruguayan is surrounded by three defenders when he strikes a low shot towards goal from just inside the box, but he's denied by Pacheco in goal. Barca do nothing with the resultant corner.   

24'   Coutinho to Suarez, who dinks a beautiful pass over the top to Sergi Roberto on the left side of the box. The full back tries a first time pass on the volley towards Coutinho in the centre but he mis-hits it, allowing Alaves to gather the ball.  

23'   Coutinho and Suarez combine with a one-two, before the former shoots from distance. But it needed to be a lot better to trouble Pacheco.

21'   A decent ball played into Suarez in the box, but he's dispossessed as he tries to turn himself towards goal.  

Current values of the two squads here on Transfermarkt.com: Alaves: 90 million euros - Barcelona: 1.18 billion euros.  

15'   Alaves have a chance with an in-swinging free kick set piece on the right, but it's safely into the hands of Ter Stegen. 

14'   Alaves' Jony does well to beat Semedo in the middle. But he's overcooked a long ball towards Rolan, who was in plenty of space approaching Barcelona's area. 

10'   Alaves can only chase the ball, they've barely touched it in these opening 10 minutes. 

8'    Barcelona looking threatening now, creating a few chances in the last few minutes. It feels like a goal is imminent. 

6'   Not long! Suarez has a golden opportunity as the Uruguayan is realesed in the box with a pass from Countinho. But he's hit it straight at Pacheco in goal. 

5'   Alavés look very organised, not allowing Barca to penetrate. Let's see how long they can keep it up.

3'   Pique eventually gives away the ball with a poorly aimed pass in the centre. 

3'   Barca passing it around with ease, trying to build something here. 

1' Alavés get the game underway. 

Alaves have scored 35 league goals this season, just two more than Lionel Messi has managed on his own in LaLiga. 

Borja Baston starts all alone up front for Alavés. The man from Madrid has only found the net on 4 occasions this season. 

Ernesto Valverde has won his La Liga games against Alavés as Barça boss. Not many would bet against him making it four from four tonight. 

Pretty-in-pink Barcelona are currently going through their warm up. Less than 25 minutes until kick off...

Alavés have gone five games without a win and ending that run will be unlikely against Barcelona, who have not lost a league game since November. But one piece of postive news for El Glorioso ahead of the clash is that Messi will start on the bench. They will feel that that will slightly increase their hopes. 

Dembélé starts tonight for Barcelona. The Frenchman was the topic of conversation in an interview with former sporting director at Barça, Robert Fernández, earlier today. You can check out what he had to say here. 

Barça starting XI |  Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Umtiti, Sergi Roberto; Aleñá, Busquets, Arturo Vidal; Dembélé, Suárez, Coutinho
Alavés starting XI | Pacheco, Vigaray, Ximo, Ely, Laguardia, Duarte, Pina, Wakaso, Jony, Rolán, Bastón.

And the team news is in...

As well as the expected addition of silverware, clinching the league this week will give Valverde the chance to rest some of his stars for the weekend game against Levante, allowing them to be fresh for next Wednesday's visit of Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final first leg.

The key focus of this encounter is whether or not Ernesto Valverde's troops can secure another LaLiga title. A win tonight and Atlético Madrid falling at home to Valencia tomorrow will see the Catalans crowned kings of Spain once more.

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of champions-elect Barça's visit to Deportivo Alavés. We're building up to kick-off and have prepared a short preview about the match to give you some background.