Getafe 1-2 Barcelona: Paulinho hands Barcelona a gritty win
By James Kilpatrick
Last Updated: 17/09/17 2:33pm
Paulinho opened his account for Barcelona by scoring their pivotal goal in a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Getafe.
A stunning strike by Gaku Shibasaki in the 39th minute gave Getafe a surprise lead before substitute Denis Suarez curled in Barcelona's equaliser in the 62nd minute.
And just seven minutes after coming off the bench, Paulinho scored the visitors' winner with six minutes of normal time remaining.
The victory means Barcelona remain top of the league and now go seven points clear of struggling title rivals Real Madrid, who play Real Sociedad on Sunday night, live on Sky Sports Football. Despite impressing for long periods in the match, the defeat for Getafe means they slip down to 11th place in the table.
Getafe: Guaita (7), Djene (7), Antunes (7), Bergara (7), Shibasaki (8), Cala (7), Arambarri (6), Molina (6), Fajr (6), Damian (6), Amath (6)
Subs: Guerrero (7), Mora (7), Portillo (6)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen (7), S Roberto (7), Pique (5), Umtiti (6), J Alba (4), Rakitic (6), Busquets (5), Iniesta (5), Suarez (6), Messi (6), Dembele (N/A)
Subs: Paulinho (8), Deulofeu (7), Denis Suarez (8)
Man of the Match: Paulinho
It was an uncomfortable start for Barcelona with Getafe keen to set the rhythm early. And the nerves from the visitors showed when Gerard Pique was booked in the 10th minute after hauling down Jorge Molina. Getafe then almost took the lead five minutes later through the veteran striker, who failed to make clean enough contact on Shibasaki's dangerous ball across the face of the goal.
And matters only got worse for Barcelona as Ousmane Dembele, who was making his first La Liga start, was forced off with what looked to be a hamstring problem after attempting a backheel. The 20-year-old was replaced by ex-Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu.
Then, in the 39th minute, Getafe's high-pressure tactics paid off. A long ball towards the penalty box was expertly nodded down by Markel Bergara, before Shibasaki rifled his strike, on the volley, into the top corner to give Getafe a deserved lead entering the second half.
Despite returning to training, Paco Alcacer was ruled out due to illness. Arda Turan and Rafinha Alcantara both remained on the sidelines.
For Getafe, former Liverpool forward Dani Pacheco was missing out with a shoulder injury while Nicolas Gorosito also missed out through injury.
After Shibasaki had to be withdrawn with a leg injury in a scrappy opening to the half, Barcelona's first clear chance was engineered by Sergi Roberto, who cut in off the right flank and drove his strike into the grateful hands of Vicente Guaita.
But Roberto, who was controversially picked as the starting full-back, ahead of Nelson Samedo, turned provider for Barcelona's equaliser. Deulofeu's ponderous run was taken on by Roberto, who pegged the ball back to sub Suarez who expertly curled his first-time shot into the top corner.
Getafe came close to taking the lead through Mauro Arambarri as his deflected strike hit the post but it would be the substitute Paulinho who stole the headlines. The former Tottenham midfielder's powerful run into the box and tidy finish for his first Barcelona goal ensured a crucial victory for the visitors.
Man of the Match - Paulinho
Despite valiant efforts from numerous Getafe players, it was Barcelona's Paulinho who would change the entire tone of the match with a fine solo goal.
His strength and physicality added a new dynamic to the Barcelona attack not seen in years as he used his brute force to barge his way through and score the vital goal in a tight contest which looked destined to end in a draw.
Barcelona are in midweek La Liga action, facing Eibar on Tuesday at the Nou Camp on Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports Football (Red Button). Getafe are back on Sky Sports Football on Thursday as they travel to Celta Vigo for an 8pm kick-off.