Granada defeat leaves Barcas title hopes in tatters

12 April 2014 10:01

Barcelona's La Liga title hopes suffered a huge blow as they lost 1-0 at Granada on Saturday to slip to a second consecutive defeat.

Algerian Yacine Brahimi scored the only goal after 16 minutes as Barca failed to find a way past the inspired Orestis Karnezis in the Granada goal.

Defeat rounds off an awful week for Barca as they were also dumped out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

The Catalans are now third in La Liga, a point behind both Real Madrid and Atletico after Real cruised to a 4-0 win over Almeria at the Santiago Bernabeu thanks to goals from Angel di Maria, Gareth Bale, Isco and Alvaro Morata.

Atletico, who now just need to win five of their remaining six games to claim a first La Liga title in 18 years, can open up a gap at the top when they face Getafe on Sunday.

"It is a step backwards. It was just one move, for their goal, which we were punished for despite all the effort we put in," Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta told Canal Plus.

"At times it is difficult to explain when you lose. We lacked goals, but the rest we had under control.

"They only had the one chance with their goal. Teams like this, that are playing for their lives, live off just getting one chance. It is undeserved, we ought to have won but we haven't done so.

"We did everything to score. All we lacked was the finish, which is the most difficult part and makes the difference."

Barca boss Gerardo Martino shared Iniesta's analysis of the game and said he couldn't fault his players' performance as they racked up 29 efforts on goal and enjoyed over 80 percent of the possession.

- 'Matters no longer in own hands' -

"We no longer have matters in our own hands, but I couldn't ask for anything more from the players," he said.

"They tried in every way possible. They created plenty of chances, but today it wasn't to be. I can't criticise them for anything apart from obviously not finishing off the chances we had."

Martino had made four changes from the side that started Wednesday's 1-0 defeat to Atletico with a makeshift back four made up of reserve full-backs Adriano and Martin Montoya alongside natural holding midfielders Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets.

Granada took advantage of that unsettled defence to open the scoring as Brahimi sped past Busquets and forced the ball past Jose Manuel Pinto at his near post.

Neymar then headed over from a fine Montoya cross before the Brazilian forced Karnezis into his first serious save of the day with a curling effort from outside the area that was beaten away by the Greek 'keeper.

It was one-way traffic in the second half as Barca were denied on numerous occasions by Karnezis.

Cesc Fabregas was the first to come close as his low volley was turned behind before Neymar came within inches of an equaliser with a low drive that flew across goal and just past the far post.

Karnezis then made two great saves in as many minutes as he got a hand to Lionel Messi's inch-perfect free-kick to prevent the ball finding the top corner and then held Busquets' effort as the Spanish international bundled the ball goalwards from the resulting corner.

Even when Karnezis was finally beaten, on-loan Liverpool defender Tiago Ilori was on hand to clear another effort from Neymar off the line as the ball trickled towards goal to dent Barca's title challenge and take Granada six points clear of the relegation zone.

It was a far more straight forward evening for Real as even without the injured Cristiano Ronaldo they had far too much for Almeria.

Esteban kept the hosts in the game early on as he made a fine save to deny Bale opening the scoring, but Angel di Maria eventually made the breakthrough with a curling left-footed effort 28 minutes in.

Real then made the game safe with a fast start to the second period as Karim Benzema played in Bale to hammer home his 19th goal of the season before Isco made it 3-0 three minutes later with a precise low finish.

And Morata rounded off the scoring six minutes from time with a lovely dinked finish from Asier Illarramendi's through ball.

Source: AFP