BARCELONA – Barcelona secured a much-needed 2-1 home victory over Villarreal in La Liga on Tuesday, racing into a two-goal lead inside 15 minutes before hanging on after Santi Cazorla halved the deficit on the stroke of halftime.
The victory takes Barcelona up to fourth with 10 points after six games, one point behind surprise leaders Granada, Athletic Bilbao, who visit Leganes on Wednesday, and Real Madrid ahead of their game at home to Osasuna the same night.
Barca's win was marred by the sight of Lionel Messi, making his first start this season, receiving lengthy treatment before being replaced at halftime by Ousmane Dembele in what coach Ernesto Valverde insisted was a precautionary measure.
“He noticed a little bit of an issue with his adductor and we preferred for him not to stay on the pitch, but it was just a precaution,” he said. “I don't think it's any more than just a niggle but we'll need to wait for tomorrow to confirm.”
“We are playing well at home, but I think with the injury to Leo everyone was stopped in their tracks a little bit. I think we're very much on the right track at home, though.”