Barcelona beat Leganes to go seven points clear in La Liga
Leaders get further boost as Madrid derby ends in stalemate
Paulinho celebrates scoring Barcelona’s third against Leganes. Photograph: Denis Doyle/Getty
Barcelona striker Luis Suarez snapped a goal drought spanning five games by scoring twice in his side’s 3-0 win over Leganes on Saturday to take the Catalans seven points clear at the top of the La Liga table.
The Uruguayan reaped the benefits of two weeks rest after being left out of his country’s internationals and pounced from close range to give Barca the lead in the 28th minute, after Leganes goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar failed to hold a shot from Paco Alcacer.
Leganes, enjoying their second season in Spain’s top flight, went into the game with the third best defence in the league after Barca and Atletico Madrid and did not make things easy for the visitors.
They offered Barca little space going forward and strikers Nordin Amrabat and Alexander Szymanowski both spurned chances to score before the break, the latter being denied by the left hand of an outstretched Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
“Perhaps the result implies we dominated the game more than we actually did,” Barca coach Ernesto Valverde told reporters.
“They had their chances, we knew how to cope with the moments when they were going forward and we attacked decisively. The first half was tight but things opened up in the second.”
Suarez doubled Ernesto Valverde’s side’s lead on the hour by sliding to send another rebound beyond the hapless Cuellar and was twice denied a hat-trick. Substitute Paulinho poked in the third in stoppage-time for his fourth goal of the season.
There was one negative for Barca, however, as defender Gerard Pique picked up a fifth yellow card of the season and is suspended for next week’s top-of-the-table clash at Valencia, adding to the absence of fellow centre back Javier Mascherano.
Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid shared a rare goalless draw in the first derby at the Wanda Metropolitano in a result that will have delighted Barcelona.
The last time a La Liga clash between the two capital clubs finished 0-0 was back in 2005, and since then only one of 39 meetings between the rivals in all competitions had failed to produce a goal – the 2014/15 Champions League quarter-final first leg.
But defences ruled the roost at Atletico’s impressive new 68,000-capacity home ground, which provided an electric atmosphere to a match that failed to spark.
Local bragging rights might have been shared between the two arch-rivals, but it will be Barca wearing the smiles tonight as they now boast a 10-point advantage over their two likeliest title challengers.