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Granada stun Barcelona to go top despite Lionel Messi’s rescue effort | Football

Granada took advantage of Barcelona’s troubles on the road to move top of La Liga with a 2-0 victory at the Estadio Los Cármenes. Ramon Azeez and Álvaro Vadillo netted in either half to leave Barça, who started with Lionel Messi on the bench, without a win in all four away matches this season.

A win against a side they have beaten 11 times in their last 12 league meetings would have taken Barça top of the table on goal difference. But despite the introduction of Messi at half-time, it was Granada who took their opportunity to leapfrog Sevilla and Atlético Madrid and hit the summit.

The hosts went ahead in the second minute through Azeez. Roberto Soldado robbed Junior Firpo, fed Antonio Puertas and his cross was headed in by the striker from close range, leaving Barça trailing for the fourth time in five league matches.

Marc-André Ter Stegen made a fine save to push Puertas’s shot wide as Granada attempted to double their advantage. Yangel Herrera, on loan from Manchester City, fired over before Barça had their first attempt on goal on the stroke of half-time, with Luis Suárez having a shot blocked.

Ernesto Valverde shook things up at half-time, bringing on Messi and Ansu Fati for Junior and Carles Pérez. But Granada refused to be overawed and almost went 2-0 up following a howler from Ter Stegen.

The goalkeeper, under no pressure at all, dropped a catch before recovering to smother the ball before it could cross the goalline. Granada did double their advantage in the 66th minute, though, Vadillo converting from the penalty spot following a handball from Arturo Vidal, who had just come on as a substitute.

Messi tried in vain to haul Barcelona back into the game, sending in numerous crosses that came to nothing and having a shot saved by Rui Silva. The defeat – their second in five league games – sends Barcelona down to seventh in the table, three points behind Granada at the top.

Atlético Madrid also slipped up as they were held to a goalless draw by Celta Vigo at the Wanda Metropolitano. Goalkeeper Rubén Blanco was in inspired form for the visitors, producing several fine saves as Diego Simeone’s men were frustrated.

Villarreal left it late to beat Real Valladolid 2-0 and move up to fourth. The home side finally made the breakthrough in the 77th minute through Santi Cazorla.

The former Arsenal midfielder converted from the penalty spot after Javier Ontiveros was brought down, and, Ontiveros netted a second a minute from time.

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