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Paulinho Rescues Barcelona

Paulinho paid back a chunk of that 40m euros transfer fee that raised so many eyebrows this summer, scoring the winner for Barcelona against Getafe.

Barcelona had to come from behind to keep up their 100 per cent record so far this season but substitutes Denis Suarez and Paulinho got the goals as the ran out 2-1 winners.

Things did not go according to the script early on when Gaku Shibasaki got a spectacular opener. The ball dropped to the Getafe number ten on the edge of the area; he drew back his left foot and cracked it like a whip to send and an unstoppable volley swerving into the roof of the net.

It was worthy of Lionel Messi but it had been Getafe’s number 10 and not Barça’s who had opened the scoring.

There were plenty of Barcelona fans inside Getafe’s Coliseum Alfonso Pérez stadium but they had very little to cheer in the first half.

Gerard Pique felt the need to rugby tackle Jorge Molina after the big striker got away from him early on and Barça struggled with the home side’s attacks. Pique was booked.

Barça do let teams have chances against them and Getafe had nearly taken the league on 10 minutes when Shibasaki got away down the left. Molina really should have finished at the back post but the old warhorse showed his 35 years as he failed to reach the cross.

Things went from bad to worse when Ousmane Dembele went off after 25 minutes. There was a little back-heel to Luis Suarez a moment earlier that seemed to provoke the injury. Gerard Deulofeu was, at least, a like for like change.

Samuel Umititi had Barcelona’s clearest first half chance on the half hour but headed Andres Iniesta’s cross straight into Getafe keeper Vicente Guaita’s hands. Leo Messi was then kicked by Juan Cala who earned a booking.

Then came Shibasaki’s spectacular opener. It will have been approaching midnight local time in Japan when the ball hit the back of the net. If anyone had stayed up to see how Shibasaki would fare against Barcelona they had surely just jumped out of their seat.

Just before an awful first half for Barcelona came to a close Messi almost got them level. His free-kick from distance was flying into the top corner but Guaita did well to make the save.

Iniesta stayed in the dressing room at half time. It was enough to make Barcelona supporters start thinking about Philippe Coutinho again. He would have been the ideal man to replace both Demebele and Iniesta.

But Denis Suarez had replaced Iniesta and on 62 minutes he made his mark with a quick control and shot from Sergio Roberto to make it 1-1. It was a well taken equalizer for a player making his 40th appearance for Barcelona – a landmark that obliges Barça to pay Manchester City another 800,000 euros for the midfielder.

Barcelona now looked the more likely winners and Luis Suarez should have been awarded a penalty. It was an exaggerated dive from Suarez that had perhaps made the referee think it was not a penalty. A replay clearly showed it should have been a spot-kick against Djené Ortega. Suarez kept up his protests and was booked.

In the end it didn’t matter because in Suarez-style Paulinho powered his way through the middle allowed the Getafe defender to bounce off him as he found the far corner with a well-struck shot to win the game.

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