L’Palmas 1-2 Barcelona: Enique’s men scale Amarillos hurdle

Barcelona's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Athletic Club Bilbao at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on January 17, 2016. AFP PHOTO/ LLUIS GENE / AFP / LLUIS GENE

Barcelona moved nine points clear at the top of the La Liga table after goals from Luis Suarez and Neymar secured them a 2-1 victory at the Estadio de Gran Canaria on Saturday.

Las Palmas captured the imagination with a daring first-half display, but Luis Enrique’s men rallied back to take the lead at half-time thanks and held on for the second half to secure maximum points.

Gerard Pique was rested in light of Barcelona’s Champions League last-16 first leg against Arsenal next week, while Sergio Busquets was banned for accumulating a fifth yellow card of the season at Sporting Gijon on Wednesday.

The pair were replaced in the starting line-up by Jordi Alba and Andres Iniesta, with Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano and Sergi Roberto also coming into fold, albeit at the expense of Aleix Vidal, Adriano and Ivan Rakitic.

The two sides’ last meeting – a 2-1 victory for Barcelona in September – infamously saw Lionel Messi break down with a ligament tear, which would rule him out for the following two months, and the Catalans were dealt plenty of problems in the rematch at Gran Canaria.

Nonetheless, Barcelona needed just six minutes to break the deadlock, Iniesta’s eye-of-a-needle pass releasing Alba down the left and the left-back’s square ball into the box being tapped home by Suarez for his 25th League goal of the season.

However, Las Palmas deservedly got the equaliser just four minutes later thanks to Willian Jose’s slotted finish after Jonathan Viera had found the striker with the deftest of back-heels from a long ball, despite the Catalan’s protestations that the pass was offside.

The islanders continued to apply plenty of pressure and showcased imagination in their attacking play, while remaining firm at the back, but the Barcelona would restore their lead before the break through Neymar, who swept home a rebound from Lionel Messi’s parried shot.