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Football news - Suarez and Messi bail out Barca as they go five points clear at top

Suarez and Messi bail out Barca as they go five points clear at top

21/01/2019 at 07:41Updated 21/01/2019 at 09:44

La Liga, Camp Nou - Barcelona 3 (Dembele 32', Suarez 71', Messi 90') Leganes 1 (Braithwaite 57')

Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi bailed out Barcelona against Leganes after their side looked to be heading for a draw in their Liga match at Camp Nou.

Ousmane Dembele started brightly before giving the home side the lead in the 34th minute, guiding a side-footed shot into the net off the post. It was no less than the hosts deserved after a dominant first half display.

However, Leganes hit back in the second half, conceding 10 minutes after the interval when on-loan Middlesbrough striker Martin Braithwaite scored from close range to restore parity for the minnows.

Leganes' Martin Braithwaite celebrates scoring their first goal

Leganes' Martin Braithwaite celebrates scoring their first goalReuters

Dembele was taken off with an injury to make matters worse for Barcelona, but Messi was introduced off the bench to change the game, and that he did when Suarez popped up after 71 minutes to prod home a controversial second for the Catalans after a Messi shot was saved.

The Argentine then added the gloss in injury time with a splendid goal after linking up with Jordi Alba. The three points mean that Barcelona restore their five-point lead over Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga.

Luis Suarez (FC Barcelone) celèbre son but face à Leganes en Liga

Luis Suarez (FC Barcelone) celèbre son but face à Leganes en LigaGetty Images

TALKING POINT - Should Luis Suarez’s goal have stood?

It was the moment upon which the whole match pivoted. Leganes looked good value for a point at Camp Nou until the 72nd minute when Suarez clattered into Ivan Cuellar as he chased down a rebound from a Messi shot. The goal stood after a VAR review, but some replays showed that Suarez was overly aggressive in his challenge. So was the goal legitimate? Or did Barcelona get some good fortune there?

MAN OF THE MATCH - Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)

Messi made the difference for Barcelona by coming off the bench in the second half, but Dembele lit up things until the 68th minute when the French winger suffered an injury. This might well have been Dembele’s best performance as a Barca player so far. He was electric throughout, which is what made his injury all the more painful. The Frenchman has had some bad luck over the past two years. He deserves a break.

Ousmane Dembele of Barcelona (11) celebrates after scoring his team's first goal with Luis Suarez (9) during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and CD Leganes at Camp Nou on January 20, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain.

Ousmane Dembele of Barcelona (11) celebrates after scoring his team's first goal with Luis Suarez (9) during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and CD Leganes at Camp Nou on January 20, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain.Getty Images

PLAYER RATINGS

Barcelona: Ter Stegen 5, Roberto 6, Pique 6, Vermaelen 7, Alba 7, Busquets 6, Arthur 5, Alena 6, Coutinho 5, Dembele 8, Suarez 7. Subs: Messi 8, Rakitic 7, Malcom 5.

Barcelona: Ter Stegen 5, Roberto 6, Pique 6, Vermaelen 7, Alba 7, Busquets 6, Arthur 5, Alena 6, Coutinho 5, Dembele 8, Suarez 7. Subs: Messi 8, Rakitic 7, Malcom 5.

KEY MOMENTS

33’ GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Leganes: Dembele has been the best player on the pitch in this first half and so it's fitting that he has scored the opener! Alba burst into the box, played the pass back for Dembele and he guided a side-footed shot into the back of the net off the inside of the post.

58’ GOAL! Barcelona 1-1 Leganes: Game on! En-Nesyri was played down the right side, he squared the pass for Braithwaite in the middle and the Danish striker was on hand to finish from close range! He's scored against Barcelona and Real Madrid in the space of just a few days!

66’ Dembele injury! Oh no! Dembele has been the best player on the pitch this evening, but will now have to come off. He tried to turn with the ball and his leg folded underneath him.

71’ GOAL! Barcelona 2-1 Leganes: Barcelona are back in front! Messi created the space for the shot 20 yards out, Cuellar made the save from the number 10 and then Suarez was on hand to prod home the ball. There will be a VAR check, but it should stand.

73’ Goal stands! There's confusion at Camp Nou! It looked like the referee had disallowed the goal and given the foul. Then he points to the centre circle and the Barcelona goal will stand.

93’ GOAL! Barcelona 3-1 Leganes: Messi golazooooooo! It's that connection between Messi and Alba once again! They exchanged passes inside the box and then Messi fired high into the net! This has been a test for Barcelona, but they now have the points secured.

KEY STATS

Lionel Messi has now scored 18 times in La Liga this season, more than any other player in any of the big five European leagues.

Luis Suarez has scored 15 or more league goals in each of his seven seasons as a Barcelona player.

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