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Barcelona 2-1 Alaves: Messi and Suarez to the rescue

  • Goals from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi helped Barcelona came from behind to beat Alaves at the Nou Camp
  • John Guidetti silenced the home crowd midway through the first half when he gave the visitors the lead
  • New signing Philippe Coutinho was substituted off on his full Barcelona debut with 24 minutes left to play
  • Suarez levelled the scores on 72 minutes before Messi completed the comeback with a sublime free-kick 
  • Barcelona sit 11 points clear at the top of La Liga after successfully extending their unbeaten record

By Pete Jenson for MailOnline

Published: 16:39 EST, 28 January 2018 | Updated: 18:16 EST, 28 January 2018

Players come and players go but one thing at the Nou Camp never seems to change – with incredible frequency, Lionel Messi gets the winning goal.

Philippe Coutinho made his debut but Barca's new No 14 had already been taken off when Messi scored his third free-kick of the season to give Barcelona a 2-1 win over Alaves.

The visitors had taken a shock first-half lead but were undone but Messi six minutes from time and his partner in crime Luis Suarez, who lashed in the equaliser 12 minutes earlier. 

Lionel Messi was on hand yet again to help Barcelona come from behind to beat Alaves at the Nou Camp on Sunday night
Lionel Messi was on hand yet again to help Barcelona come from behind to beat Alaves at the Nou Camp on Sunday night

Lionel Messi was on hand yet again to help Barcelona come from behind to beat Alaves at the Nou Camp on Sunday night

Messi completed the comeback with a sublime 84th-minute free kick that was perfectly placed into the top right corner
Messi completed the comeback with a sublime 84th-minute free kick that was perfectly placed into the top right corner

Messi completed the comeback with a sublime 84th-minute free kick that was perfectly placed into the top right corner

It was the third time Messi had scored a free kick this season and the win ensures Ernesto Valverde's side remain unbeaten
It was the third time Messi had scored a free kick this season and the win ensures Ernesto Valverde's side remain unbeaten

It was the third time Messi had scored a free kick this season and the win ensures Ernesto Valverde's side remain unbeaten

Luis Suarez equalised for the home side 12 minutes before Messi struck the winner as they stretched their lead to 11 points
Luis Suarez equalised for the home side 12 minutes before Messi struck the winner as they stretched their lead to 11 points

Luis Suarez equalised for the home side 12 minutes before Messi struck the winner as they stretched their lead to 11 points

Barcelona's latest acquisition Philippe Coutinho was hauled off before both Messi and Suarez had their say on the game
Barcelona's latest acquisition Philippe Coutinho was hauled off before both Messi and Suarez had their say on the game

Barcelona's latest acquisition Philippe Coutinho was hauled off before both Messi and Suarez had their say on the game

MATCH FACTS AND LA LIGA TABLE

Barcelona (4-4-2): Ter Stegen; Semedo (Roberto 52), Pique, Umtiti, Digne (Alba 52); Coutinho (Alcacer 66), Paulinho, Rakitic, Iniesta; Suarez, Messi

Subs not used: Busquets, Cillessen, Vidal, Mina

Goals: Suarez 72; Messi 84

Alaves (4-4-2): Pacheco; Alexis, Laguardia, Maripan, Duarte (Demirovic 89); Gullon (Sag 63), Medran, Mubarak, Gomez; Guidetti (Munir 75), Pozuelo

Subs not used: Vigaray, Sivera, Dieguez, Aguirregabiria

Goals: Guidetti 23 

Booked: Mubarak 22; Duarte 27 

These two are scoring every week at the moment. Messi almost added a third on full-time – a two goal margin would have been harsh on Alaves, who for long spells had given a masterclass in how best to play Barcelona.

Ibai Gomez raced through on to Hernan Perez' pass with their first attack but Marc-Andre ter Stegen came out and made himself big to block the shot. It was a warning, and one that Barcelona did not heed.

The high defensive line is nothing new but the inability to defend against a team making a quick break is not something we have seen so far this season. Samuel Umtiti was badly positioned and caught for pace as John Guidetti raced away to score. The goal celebration was dedicated to his new son born on Saturday.

It was Guidetti's first goal for Alaves after moving on loan from Celta Vigo. Coutinho almost responded for Barcelona but Ruben Duarte threw himself in front of the ball, deflecting it for a corner. 

Suarez accepts the La Liga player of the month award from former Barca defender Eric Abidal ahead of kick off
Suarez accepts the La Liga player of the month award from former Barca defender Eric Abidal ahead of kick off

Suarez accepts the La Liga player of the month award from former Barca defender Eric Abidal ahead of kick off

Coutinho made his La Liga debut after appearing as a substitute in Barcelona's Copa del Rey win over Espanyol
Coutinho made his La Liga debut after appearing as a substitute in Barcelona's Copa del Rey win over Espanyol

Coutinho made his La Liga debut after appearing as a substitute in Barcelona's Copa del Rey win over Espanyol

Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen comes under pressure from opposition forward Ruben Sobrino at the Nou Camp
Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen comes under pressure from opposition forward Ruben Sobrino at the Nou Camp

Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen comes under pressure from opposition forward Ruben Sobrino at the Nou Camp

The Alaves players congratulate  team-mate John Guidetti after the visitors take a surprise lead at the home of the leaders
The Alaves players congratulate  team-mate John Guidetti after the visitors take a surprise lead at the home of the leaders

The Alaves players congratulate team-mate John Guidetti after the visitors take a surprise lead at the home of the leaders

The former Manchester City prodigy silenced the home crowd with his opener after 23 minutes on Sunday evening
The former Manchester City prodigy silenced the home crowd with his opener after 23 minutes on Sunday evening

The former Manchester City prodigy silenced the home crowd with his opener after 23 minutes on Sunday evening

Coutinho finally secured his move from Liverpool this month but the forward enjoyed a quiet full debut for his new side
Coutinho finally secured his move from Liverpool this month but the forward enjoyed a quiet full debut for his new side

Coutinho finally secured his move from Liverpool this month but the forward enjoyed a quiet full debut for his new side

Barca were off their game and Messi was the embodiment of that early on. He was found by Iniesta's lobbed pass inside the six-yard box but his first touch was slightly heavy and the chance got away from him. 

He had also been involved in Barcelona losing possession ahead of the Alaves goal. He would more than make up for it, as always.

Coutinho had done well enough in the first 45 minutes despite sliding off the pitch and into the pitch-side advertising hoardings trying to keep the ball back in play. 

He was busy and tidy and he won a free-kick just before the break when he was on the end of an ugly challenge from Mubarak Wakasso. Messi took it and it was goal-bound but Fernando Pacheco got a hand to it.

Barcelona came out unchanged for the second half, for all that Ernesto Valverde's formation had not worked in the first period. Coutinho was lined up on the right of midfield with Iniesta on the left of a 4-4-2. Barcelona were missing Sergio Busquets' organizational skills in the middle and neither full-backs were getting forward. 

Barcelona's star man  Messi bears down on the Alaves back four but for long periods he and his team-mates were frustrated
Barcelona's star man  Messi bears down on the Alaves back four but for long periods he and his team-mates were frustrated

Barcelona's star man Messi bears down on the Alaves back four but for long periods he and his team-mates were frustrated

Messi holds his left shin after going to ground under a challenge – the forward recovered to secure all three points for his side
Messi holds his left shin after going to ground under a challenge – the forward recovered to secure all three points for his side

Messi holds his left shin after going to ground under a challenge – the forward recovered to secure all three points for his side

The Argentina international attempts to lift a free kick over a towering Alaves wall but this effort flew past the visitors' goal
The Argentina international attempts to lift a free kick over a towering Alaves wall but this effort flew past the visitors' goal

The Argentina international attempts to lift a free kick over a towering Alaves wall but this effort flew past the visitors' goal

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde (R) scratches his head as he watches his side struggle to create opportunities
Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde (R) scratches his head as he watches his side struggle to create opportunities

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde (R) scratches his head as he watches his side struggle to create opportunities

Ibai Gomez also had a chance to silence the Nou Camp crowd for a second time but he was denied this time by ter Stegen
Ibai Gomez also had a chance to silence the Nou Camp crowd for a second time but he was denied this time by ter Stegen

Ibai Gomez also had a chance to silence the Nou Camp crowd for a second time but he was denied this time by ter Stegen

On the hour mark Valverde swapped both of them with Jordi Alba and Sergio Roberto coming on for Lucas Digne and Nelson Semedo. Coutinho continued to show skill and industry and now Barcelona had added width.

Not that it changed things. They still carried surprisingly little threat and Alaves almost doubled their lead. Guidetti teed-up Gomez but he delayed his shot despite being through on goal. He readjusted and found Duarte but his shot was blocked by Gerard Pique.

That was the cue for another change and this time it was Coutinho's No 14 board held aloft. The change preceded Barca's best chance as Messi slipped the ball to Luis Suarez but Pacheco made the save.

They were looking dangerous now and when Pique popped up at auxiliary centre-forward he hooked the ball goalwards and Pacheco, and then Duarte, had to block two close range efforts from Paulinho.

With the next attack the real centre forward got the goal. Iniesta did well out wide and when he crossed Suarez lashed it past Pacheco on the volley to make it 1-1. Pique possibly had a hand in it. Replays suggested it hit his arm despite his efforts to get out of the way.

With one half of the old one-two on the scoresheet it was left for Messi to win it. He was brought down five yards outside the area and he picked himself up, placed the ball down and then curled it over Pacheco's head to make it 2-1.

Alaves defender Mubarak Wakaso clears the ball away from his own goal in spectacular fashion to deny Barca an equaliser
Alaves defender Mubarak Wakaso clears the ball away from his own goal in spectacular fashion to deny Barca an equaliser

Alaves defender Mubarak Wakaso clears the ball away from his own goal in spectacular fashion to deny Barca an equaliser

Suarez grimaces after missing a chance of his own to level the tie as the visitors edged towards a famous La Liga win
Suarez grimaces after missing a chance of his own to level the tie as the visitors edged towards a famous La Liga win

Suarez grimaces after missing a chance of his own to level the tie as the visitors edged towards a famous La Liga win

Goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco makes a mess of a clearance as his attempted punch fails to leave the penalty area
Goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco makes a mess of a clearance as his attempted punch fails to leave the penalty area

Goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco makes a mess of a clearance as his attempted punch fails to leave the penalty area

Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta crosses for Suarez's well-taken equaliser to set up a dramatic finale at the Nou Camp
Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta crosses for Suarez's well-taken equaliser to set up a dramatic finale at the Nou Camp

Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta crosses for Suarez's well-taken equaliser to set up a dramatic finale at the Nou Camp

Goalkeeper Pachero was unable to prevent his side surrendering all three points as Messi's free kick headed goalwards
Goalkeeper Pachero was unable to prevent his side surrendering all three points as Messi's free kick headed goalwards

Goalkeeper Pachero was unable to prevent his side surrendering all three points as Messi's free kick headed goalwards

Messi salutes the home supporters after the full time whistle is blown. Barcelona now sit 11 points clear at the top of the table
Messi salutes the home supporters after the full time whistle is blown. Barcelona now sit 11 points clear at the top of the table

Messi salutes the home supporters after the full time whistle is blown. Barcelona now sit 11 points clear at the top of the table

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