Eibar 0-2 Barcelona: Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba on target for La Liga leaders
By Ron Walker
Last Updated: 17/02/18 8:41pm
Goals from Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba sent Barcelona 10 points clear in La Liga following a 2-0 win at 10-man Eibar.
The league leaders stuttered to victory - which equaled their all-time La Liga unbeaten record of 31 games - despite naming a full-strength side at Ipurua and regularly struggled to deal with the hosts' high pressing.
But from two moments of magic before half-time, Lionel Messi fed Suarez with a brilliant through-ball to round Marko Dmitrovic and score, before the Argentine struck the post from a tight angle.
Eibar pressed and hit the woodwork themselves despite Fabián Orellana's second-half red card for dissent, but were undone in the final moments as Alba slotted in the rebound from a Messi shot.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen (6), Roberto (5), Pique (7), Umtiti (6), Alba (7), Paulinho (6), Busquets (5), Rakitic (7), Iniesta (6), Messi (8), Suarez (7).
Subs: Coutinho (7), Vidal (6), Semedo (n/a).
Eibar: Dmitrovic (8), Pena (7), Ramis (7), Arbilla (6), Angel (7), Orellana (6), Garcia (7), Jordan (6), Diop (8), Inui (6), Kike (6).
Subs: Lomban (7), Escalante (6), Charles (n/a).
Man of the match: Pape Diop.
Barcelona needed to put down a marker after two disappointing league results but found it difficult to play through an Eibar side who pressed from the off, and saw Jose Angel nod over the bar inside a minute.
The Basque side could have had a penalty when Kike was hauled over by Gerard Pique, but from Barcelona's first clear-cut chance they fell behind as Messi took out the defence with an excellent through-ball to Suarez, who rounded Marko Dmitrovic.
Both sides struck the woodwork before the break but Eibar ended the first period on top and shortly after half-time, an unmarked Takashi Inui missed their best chance from 12 yards when picked out well by Orellana.
That would prove near enough the latter's final contribution and he gave Eibar's hopes of a comeback a blow when he punched a ball away in response to a refereeing decision, which earned him a second yellow card.
Ernesto Valverde made four changes from last weekend, naming a full-strength side and recalling Andreas Iniesta for Philippe Coutinho.
Eibar's only new face was Juan Jordan, who replaced Charles in midfield.
The frustration was too much for head coach Jose Mendilibar whose reaction to another call saw him follow him down the tunnel within minutes.
Still, Eibar were not ready to give up and continued to attack their visitors, but substitute Philippe Coutinho cut them apart late on with a cross-field pass to the edge of the box, and once Messi had been denied by Dmitrov, Alba ensured the win by finishing into an unguarded net.
Man of the match - Pape Diop
Eibar did not give Barcelona a moment's rest in possession, especially in midfield, and forced the league leaders to look for long balls out of defence.
The Senegalese harried and harassed his opposite numbers until he was taken off with 15 minutes to go, and was key in Eibar keeping their hosts at arm's length for such long periods.
Barca travel to Chelsea in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday, while Eibar visit fellow top-half chasers Celta Vigo next weekend.