Granada pay the penalty as Barca ease to victory

Sat Nov 23, 2013 1:36pm EST
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By Tim Hanlon

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Injury-plagued Barcelona continued to set the pace at the top of La Liga after first-half penalties by Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas set them on course for a comfortable 4-0 home win over 10-man Granada on Saturday.

Barcelona, without talisman Lionel Messi until January because of a hamstring strain, head the table with 40 points from 14 matches, six ahead of Atletico Madrid and nine clear of Real Madrid, both of whom were playing later on Saturday.

Iniesta opened the scoring from the penalty spot after 20 minutes, while Fabregas doubled the advantage five minutes before the break.

Granada had Manuel Iturra dismissed after 66 minutes. Alexis Sanchez and Pedro scored the other goals for the champions, who were also missing Xavi and goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

Valdes's replacement Jose Manuel Pinto was largely untroubled as Barcelona kept up the impressive form which has seen them drop only two points this season.

"We had the right balance when going forward and we attacked as a group," Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino told reporters after the match, in response to criticism of the team's more direct style

"Maybe we could have taken more time in our build up play.

"We know here that winning is not sufficient and we have a responsibility with the club to perform in a certain way,"   Continued...

Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas scores from a penalty during their Spanish First division soccer match against Granada at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona November 23, 2013. REUTERS/Albert Gea