UD Las Palmas v FC Barcelona: Tough test survived in Canary Islands (1-2)

Suárez and Neymar Jr scored the goals in Las Palmas / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
Luis Enrique’s side made to work hard for a 2-1 win at the Estadio Gran Canaria with first half goals from Suárez and Neymar Jr

Luis Enrique has often said of late that he’s wary of playing teams that are fighting for First Division survival. The recent trips to Levante and Sporting were far from easy, and his team was also made to a lot harder than might have been expected to take three points from Saturday’s visit to Las Palmas.

Goal each for starters

With Busquets suspended and Piqué left at home, the Barça boss also opted to leave Ivan Rakitic on the bench, but a nevertheless fearsome starting eleven powered into the game. It took just six minutes for them to open the scoring. Jordi Alba picked out Luis Suárez to perfection and the latter smacked home his 26th league goal of the season.

With the colours the teams were wearing, it almost looked like he’d just scored for Uruguay against Brazil. To add to the illusion, four minutes later Las Palmas were back level when their Brazilian striker William José converted a back-heeled assist from Jonathan Viera. Ten minutes gone and an electrifying game was back to all-square.

Neymar re-establishes lead

The goal fired up the home fans and although they were let off the hook after 27 minutes when Suárez nodded a simple header wide, the Canary Islanders responded well. Barça were not on top of this game.

That changed after 39 minutes thanks to a goal involving all three of the trident. Messi’s shot off a Suárez assist was parried away by keeper Javi Varas, but only as far as Neymar Jr. The Brazilian scored, and the Catalans would be taking a 2-1 lead into the dressing rooms at half-time.

Intense battle

Immediately after the restart Suárez was frustrated once again, slamming a perfect headed assist from Dani Alves straight at Varas. That wasn’t the last of the chances Barça couldn’t afford to waste against a Las Palmas team, led by the fleet-footed Viera, that showed little sign of flagging despite the game’s relentless pace.

As the minutes ticked by, Barça couldn’t kill of the game. Meanwhile, Las Palmas grew more and more hopeful of sneaking an invaluable point to boost their bid to avoid relegation, with former Barça B man Sergio Araujo causing plenty of danger when he came on as a substitute.

The game remained intense right through to the final whistle, when Luis Enrique and Barça fans around the world breathed a huge sigh of relief. The six-point lead remains intact, and thoughts can now turn to Arsenal and the return of the Champions League.