Depleted Barça scrape by Sporting
Barcelona climbed to the top of the La Liga standings after scraping past bottom club Sporting Gijon tonight to pick up a 1-0 win, their first victory away this season.
Pep Guardiola's side had drawn 2-2 at both Real Sociedad and Valencia in their previous two away matches in La Liga, but they returned from Asturias with all three points tonight thanks to Adriano's solitary early strike.
Barça are now level on 14 points with surprise package Levante at the summit, while Sporting continue to struggle at the foot of the table after suffering their fifth defeat in six games.
The Catalan side had netted 22 times in their opening five league games and also thrashed BATE Borisov 5-0 in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, but the European and Spanish champions found it tough to create many chances against a battling Sporting side.
Another big-scoring night had initially looked on the cards when Adriano put the visitors ahead after just 12 minutes, the Brazilian slotting in after Xavi's 25-yard shot had come back off the inside of the post.
However, the expected goal deluge did not arrive as Sporting made it tough for their illustrious visitors, who were missing the attacking threats of Andres Iniesta, Alexis Sanchez, Cesc Fabregas and Ibrahim Afellay due to injuries.
Soon after Adriano had put Barça ahead, the Catalan side almost doubled their lead when Thiago found David Villa in the area, but the former Sporting striker saw his effort parried away by Juan Pablo Colinas.
Barcelona would not come any closer to increasing their lead in the remainder of the match, although they had few concerns at the back either. Sporting twice threatened before the break, but neither Oscar Trejo or Nacho Cases were able to beat Barça goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
The second half continued in similar fashion, with chances few and far between at either end, although Colinas was called on to deny Lionel Messi in the 76th minute as the Argentinian looked for his ninth league goal of the campaign.
Colinas was also tested ten minutes later by Messi's 25-yard thunderbolt and it looked as though Barça had grabbed their second goal when Seydou Keita tapped in the loose ball after Colinas had spilled the shot. However, Dani Alves, who had latched onto the rebound and played it inside for Keita to roll into an empty net, had been offside.