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Neymar nets milestone goal in Barca romp
January 21 2018, 12:14 | Van Peters
Barcelona sauntered to a 4-1 rout of Granada on Sunday.
Forwards Luis Suarez and Neymar are set to play.
Barca stayed within two points of LaLiga leaders and bitter rivals Real Madrid courtesy of goals from Suarez, Paco Alcacer, Ivan Rakitic and Neymar as Gerard Pique was rested and Messi served a suspension.
Luis Enrique: "We are giving Pique a rest as he is a crucial player and has played a lot of football".
Suarez had the first of his opportunities early on, Granada goalkeeper Ochoa responding swiftly to refuse him.
Granada manager Lucas Alcaraz made the decision to bring Chelsea loanee Jeremie Boga on at half-time, a call that was nearly immediately justified after the 20-year-old took just four minutes to draw the hosts level.
Barca chief Luis Enrique had made four changes to the team that beat Valencia last time out, but was pushed into another when Alcacer came to replace the wounded Rafinha after just 17 minutes.
If Barcelona score a goal in this game, they will have scored in 18 La Liga games away in a row, their best run since September 2013 (32).
The pressure eventually told though on 44 minutes and it was Suarez who broke the deadlock, latching on to Jordi Alba's pass before delicately chipping the onrushing goalkeeper.
Alaves spurned two clear chances to level in the second half before Isco killed off their hopes by smashing home a perfectly weighted pass from Ronaldo on the counter, while Nacho bundled in the third goal moments later, pouncing after Bale had smacked the crossbar from a free-kick.
Madrid dominated the first half and Benzema's opener in the 31st minute came from a one-two with Dani Carvajal, who put the ball back into the box for the striker to fire home.
Uche Agbo, meanwhile, received his second booking in quick succession after an elbow into Neymar's face, leaving Granada down to 10 men.
Barca's unconvincing record without the Argentine, who was also hit with a four-game global ban this week for insulting an official, has not gone unnoticed by the Spanish media, who have said the team suffer from "Messi dependence".
Lionel Messi after missing a penalty kick during penalty kicks of the championship match of the 2016 Copa America Centenario.