MADRID (AP) — Overcoming a lackluster performance and benefiting from a video review that took away an early goal from its opponent, Barcelona salvaged a 2-1 victory over gritty Getafe in a match between the second and third teams in the Spanish league on Saturday.
Getafe put on a tough fight at the Camp Nou, missing some clear chances and seeing a goal called back by VAR halfway through the first half. But Antoine Griezmann and Sergi Roberto scored goals five minutes apart before the break to give Barcelona a big enough gap to hold on for a hard-fought win.
Lionel Messi reached four matches without scoring — his worst run in the Spanish league in six years — but it was his superb pass that set up Griezmann’s important opening goal.
It was Barcelona’s second consecutive league win since pressure grew on new coach Quique Setién following the team’s elimination against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals. Still, there were occasional jeers by some Barcelona fans during the match at the Camp Nou.
“We were expecting a tough match,” Setién said. “We knew it was going to be complicated. They had won four in a row.”
The victory left second-place Barcelona tied on points with leader Real Madrid at the top of the standings ahead of its title rival’s home match against relegation-threatened Celta Vigo on Sunday.
Getafe, coming off four straight league victories, stayed 10 points behind the two Spanish powerhouses. It has a two-point advantage over fourth-place Atlético Madrid, which drew 2-2 at Valencia on Friday.
“We played an incredible game,” Getafe coach José Bordalás said. “We came to the Camp Nou and played a great game, creating difficulties for Barcelona. We deserved the draw.”
The modest club from southern Madrid has been the league’s sensation for the second straight season and is again in contention for a Champions League spot. It made the Europa League last season, a competition where it hosts Ajax in the first leg of the round of 32 on Thursday.
Getafe was the most dangerous team early on at the Camp Nou, creating good opportunities on counterattacks. Forward Jorge Molina had one of the best chances in a one-on-one situation, but his shot was blocked at the last moment.
Getafe thought it had scored with a close-range shot by defender Allan Nyom following a cross into the area in the 23rd minute, but the goal was disallowed after video review saw a foul by Nyom on Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti.
Barcelona improved gradually and Griezmann opened the scoring after a beautiful one-touch pass by Messi in the 34th. The France forward entered the area and flicked the ball over Getafe goalkeeper David Soria as he charged from his net.
It was the 12th league assist for Messi, who hadn’t gone four league matches without a goal since January 2014, when he endured an eight-match scoreless streak. His greatest chance on Saturday was a close-range header that forced Soria into a difficult save before halftime.
Sergi Roberto added to the lead with his first goal of the season in the 39th with a low shot from inside the area after a low cross by Junior Firpo.
Getafe wasn’t giving up, though. Ángel Rodríguez, who has been linked to a transfer to Barcelona, pulled the visitors closer with a neat volley from inside the area in the 66th, and Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen prevented the equalizer five minutes later by making two consecutive great saves.
Barcelona defender Jordi Alba had to be replaced halfway through the first half because of a right-leg muscle injury.
The team entered the field with players wearing Ousmane Dembele’s No. 11 jersey. The French forward recently underwent a hamstring surgery and will be sidelined for the rest of the season.
Mallorca beat Alavés 1-0 to end a four-match losing streak and move out of the relegation zone.
Young Colombian Cucho Hernández scored a 63rd-minute winner to leave the hosts a point from safety.
Mallorca had a goal disallowed by video review early in the second half and missed a penalty kick in the first half.
Alavés stayed in 14th place.
Villarreal beat Levante 2-1 to move to sixth place, two points behind Atlético Madrid. Granada jumped to ninth after beating Valladolid by the same score with two late goals, including the winner six minutes into stoppage time.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni