Barcelona 1-2 Granada: Koeman sent off as La Liga title race sees further twist

Lionel Messi’s 23rd-minute goal had Barcelona in front, but Granada changed the title picture with a stunning comeback.
Agency News Contributor

Updated - 30 April 2021 3:17 pm

Barcelona 1-2 Granada: Koeman sent off as La Liga title race sees further twist

Barcelona missed the chance to move top of La Liga after suffering a shock 2-1 loss to Granada at Camp Nou on Thursday. Lionel Messi’s 23rd-minute goal appeared to have put Barca on course for a fifth straight home win, a result good enough to see them leapfrog both rivals Real Madrid and long-time leaders Atletico in the table. However, Granada – who had failed to even manage a draw in any of their previous 25 league visits to their Catalan opponents – turned the game around to further change the outlook in the title race.

Darwin Machis equalised before Barca boss Ronald Koeman was shown a red card, meaning the Dutchman had to watch on from the stands as Jorge Molina was afforded time and space to head in a 79th-minute winner.

The dramatic turnaround had never appeared on the cards, yet Barcelona allowed their opponents to score with their only two attempts on target to cause a huge upset.

Messi had broken the deadlock after linking up with Antoine Griezmann, the Frenchman timing his delayed return pass perfectly to allow his team-mate to fizz a low, left-footed shot beyond goalkeeper Aaron Escandell and into the far corner of the net.

However, Messi was not quite so clinical with another one-on-one opportunity later in the first half and Griezmann himself failed to capitalise when presented with a clear sight of goal soon after the break, firing well wide with his right foot.

Sergi Roberto also sent a volley off target as Barca struggled to make their dominance tell – and Granada made them pay to clinch a result that will undoubtedly be celebrated in the Spanish capital.

Oscar Mingueza’s failure to cut out a throughball allowed Machis to run clear and slot the ball beyond the advancing Marc-Andre ter Stegen, while Barca’s goalkeeper had no chance when Molina ghosted into the penalty area to convert Adrian Marin’s cross.

What does it mean? Messi finish now in store

Barcelona had control of their own destiny heading into the fixture, knowing that six victories in their remaining games would see them crowned top-flight champions in Spain for a 27th time.

Koeman’s side still have a home game against Atleti to come on May 8, but a domestic double – they secured the Copa del Rey earlier this month – suddenly seems a little further away after this setback.

Instead of leading the way, Barca are stuck in third spot and relying on their rivals to slip up. It is not impossible they end up finishing in fourth, considering Sevilla sit just a point behind them.

Granada made to suffer again

Messi has now been involved in 13 goals in seven LaLiga appearances against Granada at Camp Nou (10 goals and three assists), including scoring hat-tricks in 2012 and 2016.

No player has been involved in more goals in the top five European leagues since the start of 2021 either, though Messi (19 goals and eight assists during the calendar year) was left to rue his failure to double the hosts’ lead before the interval.

Travel sickness finally cured

Granada had won just once in their past 10 away LaLiga fixtures yet produced a classic smash-and-grab raid to boost their own hopes of securing European football for next season.

Poor Ter Stegen did not record a save, claim or punch a cross during proceedings. Mingueza did not help his keeper out, though, as he allowed Machis to sneak in to grab a well-taken leveller.

What’s next?

Barca travel to Valencia in the late kick-off on Sunday, by which time both Atletico (away to Elche) and Real Madrid (home to Osasuna) will have been in action. As for Granada, they host Cadiz this weekend.