Barcelona have scored twice in the final three minutes to salvage a 3-2 victory against Rayo Vallecano in Saturday’s La Liga clash at Vallecas.
The Catalan giants were heading for just a fourth defeat in 35 league meetings with Rayo when Jose Pozo and Alvaro Garcia struck either side of half time to cancel out Luis Suarez’s early opener.
Barca struggled for ideas until the final throes of the match, at which point Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez struck to earn Barca a fifth successive victory in all competitions, taking them four points clear at the top of the table.
An unchanged Barcelona had won on each of their last five visits to this ground, keeping a clean sheet in four of those, and it took just 11 minutes for them to edge in front on this latest trip.
Picking up from where he left off against Real Madrid last weekend, when netting a hat-trick to give Barca lift-off in La Liga, Suarez had the simply task of converting from five yards after being picked out by Jordi Alba.
Barca took complete control of the match for the next 20 minutes, boasting close to 75% possession at one point, but despite firing in 80 shots in the league this term – a tally only bettered by Manchester City in Europe’s top five leagues – they struggled to create any sort of shooting opportunity during that spell on top.
Instead, Rayo started to have more of a go and should have been on level terms half an hour in, only for Pozo to tuck the ball wide of the half-empty net at the end of a Raul de Tomas delivery.
Pozo, a late addition to the starting lineup, more than made amends for that miss two minutes later, however, by sending a delightful shot in off the post from 22 yards – the first goal the visitors have conceded from outside the box this season.
Despite being far from their best, Barcelona nearly regained their lead at the end of the first half through a first-time Suarez shot that caught out Alberto Garcia but hit the post.
Both teams squandered good chances to take the lead in the early stages of the second half, with Rafinha failing to convert when the angle was against him and Adri Embarba being denied by Marc-Andre ter Stegen when through on goal.
The third goal of the evening would arrive just before the hour mark, though, and it went the way of the lowly hosts – Garcia tucking home a rebound at the back post just seconds after being introduced from the bench.
Garcia, who withdrew from the starting lineup shortly before kickoff, was in the right place at the right time to convert after Tomas’s header hit the post and rolled across the face of the goal.
Ernesto Valverde changed two of his front three after seeing his side struggle to get going in the second period, bringing on Munir El Haddadi and Dembele, but Barca looked out of ideas as the game entered its final 15 minutes.
Suarez got a weak attempt away late on as the Catalans chucked bodies forward, before having a header kept out, but the pressure continued to build and Barca were duly rewarded.
Dembele guided a half-volley into the bottom corner from eight yards out, and Suarez then completed the turnaround two minutes later when peeling off his man at the back post to convert a deep cross for his fifth goal in two matches, giving his side some breathing space at the summit.