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Barça return to winning ways

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BARCELONA — Champions Barcelona returned to winning ways in the Spanish Primera Division, but had to grind out a 1-0 win away to nine-man Granada.

Although it was a less than emphatic success, Barca did get the job done against their struggling hosts as captain Xavi’s first-half free-kick was enough to earn them the victory.

It was a tough night for Pep Guardiola’s side, however, and could have been even harder had Granada not lost striker Jaime Romero in the 53rd minute and Daniel Benitez in added time.

Tuesday night’s other game saw Sevilla, on a high following a strong run of form that saw them frustrate Barça in a goalless draw at the Camp Nou on Saturday, salvage a 2-2 draw at home to Racing Santander.

Manu had given the hosts the lead after 37 minutes only for Racing to turn the game around through Ariel Nahuelpan (63) and Samperio Jairo (69). However, Manu popped up in added time to snatch a point for the Andalucians.

In Italy, Alessandro Matri’s winner sunk Fiorentina and sent Juventus one point clear at the top of Serie A.

The summer signing from Cagliari netted in the 65th minute to lift the hosts clear of Udinese.
Leonardo Bonucci opened the scoring for Juve in the 13th minute, but Stevan Jovetic levelled the scores in the 57th minute.

Fiorentina’s winless streak is now five games and they dropped to 12th in the standings as a result of the defeat.

Viola goalkeeper Artur Boruc was quickly brought into the action when he made a good save to deny Simone Pepe in the seventh minute.

However, he failed to stop Bonucci’s close-range effort six minutes later after he parried Claudio Marchisio’s shot from the edge of the area, allowing the defender to poke the ball into the net.

Boruc redeemed himself with a couple of excellent saves as Juve continued to press, the best coming in the 38th minute when he dived to deny Mirko Vucinic’s 20-yard strike.

Juve defender Andrea Barzagli almost doubled the home side’s lead in first-half injury time, but once again the excellent Boruc saved the shot which took a huge deflection off Matri.

Alberto Gilardino headed well over as the visitors threatened in the early stages of the second half and they levelled in the 57th minute.

Gilardino raced down the right and cut the ball back for Juan Manuel Vargas, who laid it off for Jovetic to fire a shot into the bottom left corner from outside the area.

Giorgio Chiellini brought a save out of Boruc from an Andrea Pirlo corner before Juve restored their lead.

Simone Pepe set up Matri, who beat Boruc from close range.

The former Celtic keeper produced another good save to deny Matri before Pepe shot wastefully wide following a break from Arturo Vidal as the visitors continued to threaten.

Matri had a half-volley comfortably saved by Boruc before Gilardino almost snatched a point for Fiorentina in stoppage time only to fire a half-chance wide from inside the area.

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