Alba seals Barcelona comeback as Suarez stars against Almeria


Luis Suarez came off the bench to rescue Barcelona from another disastrous defeat, providing both assists as the Catalans came from behind to win 2-1 at Almeria. Former Espanyol striker Thievy Bifouma had given the hosts the lead before half-time against a Barca team that started without mainstays Neymar, Suarez, Gerard Pique, Dani Alves and Xavi Hernandez. But Luis Enrique made decisive changes at the break in an attempt to avert a third straight league defeat, bringing on Neymar, Suarez, and later Xavi. The Brazilian forward grabbed the equaliser thanks to a pass from Suarez and then the Uruguayan also played in Jordi Alba for the winning goal in the 82nd minute. An unfamiliar Barca team featuring Munir El Haddadi, Adriano, Marc Bartra, Rafinha and Ivan Rakitic instead of the discarded players looked haggard for large parts of the first half. Almeria made several incursions into the visitors' area without really testing Claudio Bravo, but the Catalans squandered two golden opportunities in the 28th minute. Rakitic got on the end of a Munir cross from eight yards out but Ruben Martinez beat the ball away from the near corner, and then Messi headed the subsequent cross onto the bar. However, eight minutes before the break, Almeria's earlier efforts were rewarded, as Barca were sliced in half on the counter. Messi was crowded out in the final third and two passes later Thievy was sprinting towards goal, stroking the ball into the bottom corner. Luis Enrique responded by introducing Neymar and Suarez immediately after the break, sacrificing Munir and Pedro. But still the visitors struggled to penetrate the hosts' back line, although the Uruguayan struck the bar with an overhead kick, and Neymar side-footed wide at the near post. Almeria's resistance finally broke in the 73rd minute. Suarez got beyond his full-back on the right hand side area and squared to Neymar, whose scuffed finish rolled off the foot of Ruben and trickled into the net. Once level, Barca went all out for the winner. Suarez laid the ball on for Messi to head at goal, but the Argentinian was again denied by the bar, missing another opportunity to equal Telmo Zarra's record of 251 Primera Division goals. The all-important goal eventually arrived through the unlikely source of Alba, with Suarez again the provider. The substitute chipped the ball towards the far post and the left-back failed to connect properly with the cross but did enough to turn it into the bottom corner. Messi had another chance to get on the scoresheet in injury time but was denied by Ruben, and Barca rode out the final seconds to pick up an unconvincing but much-needed win.