Barcelona needed a second-half rally to overcome Alaves 2-1 and maintain their unbeaten run in La Liga on Sunday.

Philippe Coutinho was handed his first start for the club after making a substitute appearance in the Blaugrana‘s Copa del Rey match against Espanyol on Thursday.

The January signing from Liverpool was named in a high-powered forward line alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

However, it was the visitors who struck first to quiet the expectant Camp Nou crowd.

On 23 minutes, John Guidetti ran onto a long through ball behind the Barcelona defence and fired in from an angle to give Alaves a stunning early lead.

Ernesto Valverde made two changes seven minutes after half-time, bringing on Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba for starting full-backs Nelson Semedo and Lucas Digne.

He then brought off Coutinho to a warm applause in the 66th minute as Barcelona continued to chase an elusive equaliser.

And they nearly got it moments after the substitution when Lionel Messi played a slide-rule pass to Luis Suarez whose shot was well-saved by a quick-reacting Fernando Pacheco in the Alaves goal.

Paulinho was sensationally denied soon after — Pacheco stoning his toe poke from close range after Gerard Pique sensationally deflected a pass to the Brazilian behind the defence.

And Barca finally got their reward seconds later through Suarez, who volleyed home through a thicket of bodies after an Andres Iniesta cross picked him out on the far post.

Messi then capped the comeback six minutes from time with an unstoppable free kick from the top of the box after substitute Paco Alcacer was fouled on the edge of the area.




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