Relief for Barcelona as Quique Setien enjoys winning start
Barcelona may have a new coach, but Lionel Messi remains their unquestionable talisman after guiding the Spanish champions to a cagey 1-0 win at home to Granada in La Liga yesterday morning (Singapore time) in Quique Setien's first game in charge of the club.
The Argentinian struck in the 76th minute, firing into the bottom corner to complete a well-crafted team move shortly after the visitors had defender German Sanchez sent off.
"Messi did what he has done his entire life," said Setien of Barca's all-time top scorer.
"He has done this so many times in games like this. Games when you cannot find a way through, things aren't going for you and you are lacking inspiration, but he always conjures up something special.
"We made a few moves like this in the first half, but it didn't come off... when the ball falls to Messi, you know there's a very high chance it will go in."
The victory took Barca back to the top of La Liga on 43 points after 20 games, ahead of second-placed Real Madrid on goal difference.
Barca, who sacked Ernesto Valverde last week, enjoyed 82 per cent of possession and made a staggering 1,005 passes in their first game under Setien.- REUTERS