Jordi Alba, Luis Suarez kick Barcelona to winning ways

Steve Sidwell

Steve Sidwell

Jordi Alba dished out some late Valentine's cheer by dedicating his goal in Barcelona's 2-0 win at Eibar to his girlfriend.

Fabian Orellana hit the post for Eibar but made Barca's task easier in the 65th minute when he was sent off for punching the ball away for his second yellow card.

Valverde's team has now equalled a club record by going 31 LaLiga games unbeaten and enjoy a 10-point lead at the summit, at least until Atletico Madrid hosts Athletic Bilbao on Monday (AEDT).

Valverde's team can set a new record when it hosts neighbour Girona next weekend, on the other side of the UEFA Champions League trip to Stamford Bridge.

"Eibar always put you under a lot of pressure, so it was a good test".

"It was a very hard match just as we expected, and we will try and make sure it helps us, although the Champions League is another competition altogether".

January signing Philippe Coutinho had to settle for a place on the bench, but the 25-year-old was introduced by Ernesto Valverde whilst the game was still in the balance.

Coutinho is banned for playing for Barca in the UCL this season, so most were expecting him to start against Eibar. "It is true that we have another match on Tuesday, but for me, the important thing was today (Saturday)".

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Barcelona: Marc-Andre ter Stegen 7 (out of 10), Sergi Roberto 6, Gerard Pique 6, Samuel Umtiti 6, Jordi Alba 7, Sergio Busquets 6, Ivan Rakitic 6, Andres Iniesta 6, Paulinho 6, Lionel Messi 7, Luis Suarez 8.

This has allowed Valverde to field an extra central midfielder, often partnering Sergio Busquets with Croatian global Ivan Rakitic, affording Barca greater stability, control and balance in the middle of the park.

An exquisite through-ball from Lionel Messi gave Suarez the chance to round Marko Dmitrovic and tuck the ball over the line for goal number 17 of the La Liga campaign.

And the islanders were denied a 93rd-minute equaliser when an extremely tight offside call went against them - Alejandro Galvez looked to be level with the last defender before putting the ball in the net.

Deportivo remained in the relegation zone as its winless streak reached nine rounds.

Having experienced some indifferent form following the appointment of Italian Vincenzo Montella as coach in December, Sevilla have now claimed back-to-back league victories since progressing to the Copa del Rey final. Zinedine Zidane's side are at Betis on Sunday.

"When you win games you rest and recover better".

Deportivo La Coruna suffered a second straight defeat under Clarence Seedorf, the Dutch coach's side losing 1-0 at Alaves to a scorching strike from former Barcelona loanee Munir El Haddadi.

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