Granada 1-0 Barcelona: No revival for Barca in Granada
Brahimi burst through to fire Granada into an early lead, then it was all Barcelona as the home side stubbornly held tight and defended with their lives… right to the 90th minute and beyond.
Granada were keen to press Barca as often and as quickly as possible in the opening stages at Nuevo Los Cármenes, That seemed to work well, with the visitors struggling to settle into any rhythm.
Barca had an opportunity from a very dangerously positioned free-kick in the 6th minute, but Messi couldn’t get it over the wall. Granada then threatened with a couple of half-chances on the break, but couldn’t find the connections in the final third.
Montoya came close with a header in the 11th minute, saved by Karnezis, amidst strong pressure from Barca. Then the decisive break came for Granada in the 15th minute, Fran Rico with a perfect through-ball, Brahimi losing his marker and firing past Pinto at the near-post.
Granada had the lead, but Barca had all the possession and play in their half as the game continued. Adriano, Neymar, Iniesta all failed to hit the target, as the home defence held on.
On the half hour and still looking for a way through the stubborn Granada defence, Neymar swiped a beautifully curled shot that was on it’s way in, only to be denied by a flying save from Karnezis.
More possession, more dominance in the Granada half for Barca, but still they couldn’t find a way through. Iniesta with a lovely ball for Montoya to strike on the overlap, but off-target in the 41st minute. It just wasn’t happening and Granada held tight until the interval.
Barca continued with their dominance as the second half began, pushing Granada back straight away. The home side held firm, though Messi almost found the key with a driven ball across the six-yard line that evaded everyone inside the area, before Nyom smashed it to the safety of the stands.
After continuing their pressure, Fàbregas found an opening to drive a shot through on target in the 53rd minute, but Granada’s Greek keeper Karnezis was down well to make the save. Up at the other end, the first Granada chance of the half, Brahimi winning the race with his marker to reach a long ball forward, but Pinto just there in time to wallop clear.
Neymar brilliantly worked his way into the area in the 58th minute, but drove his low shot a fraction past the far post. The pressure remained relentless from the visitors.
Granada introduced young Chilean winger Cristian Bravo in the 64th minute, replacing the scorer Brahimi. Barca followed suit with their first change a couple of minutes later, as Jordi Alba replaced Adriano.
Barca were still pushing, still probing, still trying to find a way through, but Granada were stubbornly holding tight as the game reached the final twenty minutes. Granada made their next change in the 72st minute, as Coeff replaced Piti. After Neymar fired over and wide, Barca made their second change in the 73rd minute, as Alexis came on for Busquets.
More and more pressure from Barca, stubborn and tight resistance from Granada, until Neymar sent a ball into the six-yard box that was agonisingly inches from Messi flying in to make the contact in the 79th minute.
Alexis had a glorious chance, cleared off the line by Murillo, then Iniesta was no more than millimetres wide with a low strike in the 81st minute. Incredible how Barca weren’t at least on level terms. More pressure and more frustration for the Catalan side as Messi headed a Neymar cross over in the 86th minute.
El Arabi could have won the game as he broke clean through for Granada in the 87th minute, but he fluffed the finish and Pinto managed to block. The home side made their final change a moment later, as Mainz replaced Murillo, who had taken an earlier knock and ended up being stretchered from the pitch.
Granada 1-0 Barcelona
Referee: Carlos Delgado Ferreiro
Granada XI: Karnezis; Nyom, Ilori, Murillo, Foulquier; Iturra, Fran Rico, Recio; Brahimi (64′), El Arabi, Piti (71′).
Goals: Brahimi (15′)
Subs: Cristian Bravo (64′), Coeff (72′)
Barcelona XI: Pinto; Montoya, Mascherano, Busquets, Adriano (67′); Song, Iniesta, Fàbregas, Neymar, Messi, Pedro.
Subs: Jordi Alba (67′),
Yellow Cards: Neymar (44′)