MADRID, Jan 28 : FC Barcelona continued five-points clear at the top of the Liga Santander on Sunday when they won 2-0 away to Girona.
This was the game that the La Liga had originally scheduled to be played in Miami (USA) and it will have escaped nobody's attention that rain fell heavily on Girona's Montilivi Stadium for much of the game, not that the home fans seemed to mind the weather conditions as they were able to watch the game without a transatlantic flight.
Barca went into the game on the back of a 2-0 Copa del Rey defeat away to Sevilla in midweek, but after resting players in the Cup, Barca boss Ernesto Valverde played his strongest available starting 11.
He got his reward after just 9 minutes when Nelson Semedo took advantage of Girona's inability to clear the ball to drive home a right foot shot for his first league goal for the club.
It wasn't a game for purists, and although Leo Messi's passing was again head and shoulders above everyone else on the pitch, Girona had the chance to draw level with a double chance which saw Barca keeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen save from Cristhian Stuani before Gerard Pique cleared Pere Pons' follow-up from off the line shortly before the break.
Things got a lot harder for Girona shortly after the break when Bernardo was sent off for a second yellow card, and against 10 men, Barca opted to keep possession and try to run Girona into the ground.
Despite their superiority, it wasn't until the 67th minute that Messi was able to assure the points as he controlled a pass from Jordi Alba before dinking it over the keeper for Barca's second goal of the game and his 19th league goal of the campaign.
Girona keeper 'Bono' did well to keep out another effort from Messi in the closing minutes, but both teams seemed content to accept the result as they look ahead to vital midweek Copa del Rey games. (UNI-XINHUA)