Barca come from behind to beat struggling Rayo, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Barca come from behind to beat struggling Rayo

Lionel Messi created a goal and scored another as Barcelona came from behind to beat struggling Rayo Vallecano 3-1 at home yesterday morning (Singapore time) and stay seven points clear at the top of La Liga.

Rayo, who have now lost their last 12 games against Barca, took a shock lead midway through the first half when forward Raul de Tomas - who is on loan from Real Madrid - ran past two defenders before arrowing a shot into the bottom corner.

The Madrid side's unlikely lead at the Nou Camp lasted a quarter of an hour and ended when Messi whipped in a free-kick for an unmarked Gerard Pique to head home.

Barca won a penalty early in the second half when Luis Suarez was fouled and Messi converted to put the league leaders in front.

The Uruguayan forward made sure of the points with a simple finish from close range in the 82nd minute.

Coach Ernesto Valverde started without Ousmane Dembele and Ivan Rakitic, but fielded an otherwise first-choice starting XI ahead of the Champions League last-16, second leg clash against Lyon on Thursday morning (Singapore time). The tie is finely poised at 0-0.

Record signing Philippe Coutinho started ahead of Dembele but yet again failed to dovetail with Suarez and Messi in attack and missed both chances which fell his way.

France international Dembele was introduced at the start of the second half for midfielder Arthur Melo and Barca immediately looked more incisive down the right-hand side, from which Suarez earned the penalty that Messi converted.

Dembele, however, is a doubt for Lyon with Barca confirming he sustained slight hamstring strain.


Coutinho was taken off with 10 minutes remaining and received a smattering of boos from the Barca fans, and his replacement Rakitic had an instant impact - darting into the area to reach a pass and promptly laying it off to Suarez to score.

Said Pique: "Obviously, he (Coutinho) cost a lot and that means there are higher expectations surrounding his performances.

" You have to accept the reaction of the fans because, at the end of the day, they're our supporters. You have to respect (their opinion)."

Meanwhile, Lyon's stand-in captain Marcelo left the field with a leg injury as his side struggled to a 2-2 draw at Strasbourg yesterday morning, leaving him a doubt for the clash against Barca.

"It's too early to know if he'll play against Barcelona. He has a little issue with his hamstring," Lyon coach Bruno Genesio told French broadcaster Canal+.

"We'll do everything we have to so he plays, but we have to wait until Sunday." - AFP, REUTERS