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Messi-less Barcelona hammer Granada 4-0

The win provisionally moved Barcelona six points clear of second-place Atletico Madrid.

Written by Associated Press | Barcelona | November 24, 2013 4:05:16 am

Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas both earned and converted penalties to help give injury-battered Barcelona a 4-0 win at home over 10-man Granada on Saturday. Injured Lionel Messi watched from the sidelines at Camp Nou as the pair of Spain midfielders took turns drawing fouls from Granada’s aggressive defenders,before letting the other score the spot kick.

Iniesta slotted in Barcelona’s first goal in the 20th minute before Fabregas made it 2-0 in the 40th.

Granada played a man down from the 66th after Manuel Iturra received his second booking. Alexis Sanchez scored five minutes later before Pedro Rodriguez capped Barcelona’s victory in the 90th.

The win provisionally moved Barcelona six points clear of second-place Atletico Madrid and nine points ahead of Real Madrid before the title rivals play games later.

This was Barcelona’s first match since learning that a left hamstring tear will keep Messi sidelined probably until January. It was also missing playmaker Xavi Hernandez,goalkeeper Victor Valdes,defenders Dani Alves and Jordi Alba,and backup forward Cristian Tello,all due to injury. But it didn’t look like Barcelona was missing five of its first-choice players.

Barcelona dominated a Granada side that had only lost once away this season to remain unbeaten with a league record of 13 wins and one draw.

Iniesta got Barcelona rolling by driving his spot kick low and inside the right post after Fabregas was knocked down by Dimitri Foulquier. Fabregas then took his turn to blast the ball into the top right corner following Fran Rico’s foul of Iniesta .

Barcelona replacement goalkeeper Jose Pinto got his chance in the 71st when he beat Allan Nyom one-on-one,starting a counterattack that finished with Neymar passing for Alexis to equal Messi as Barcelona’s leading scorer in the league this season with eight goals.

Fabregas set up Pedro for his seventh goal of the league campaign.

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