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Record breaker Xavi gives Barcelona 1-0 win in Malaga

(Xinhua)

11:19, October 26, 2011

MADRID, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- Barcelona's Spain international midfielder Xavi Hernandez celebrated his 392nd league appearance for the club with the only goal of the game as his side defeated Granada 1-0 away from home in the El Carmines Stadium.

The game was the first time Barcelona had played in Granada for 35 years and it saw Xavi replace Migueli as the player who had made the most league appearances for the club.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola reacted to last Saturday's draw at home to Sevilla by giving a first start to B-team player Isaac Cuenca, while Cesc Fabrigas and Maxwell Scherer also came into his starting 11.

The league champions had struggled to break down a packed Sevilla defense at the weekend and it soon became clear that game would serve as practice for the match in Los Carmines as Granada also planted a defensive battle with at times 10 players behind the ball

Leo Messi curled a shot wide, Pedro Rodriguez headed past the wrong side of the post and Granada keeper Roberto Fernandez parried a shot from Eric Abidal as the game threatened to become a carbon copy of what happened at the weekend.

However, the script changed after 32 minutes when Xavi opened the scoring with a magnificent free kick, which he curled home from over 25 yards. It was the perfect way to celebrate his new appearance record.

Granada were reduced to 10 men eight minutes into the second half after Jaime Romero was shown his second yellow card of the night for a high challenge which saw him catch Maxwell in the face.

In the previous action Pedro fell badly and had to be replaced by David Villa, suffering what looked like a twisted left ankle.

Villa's first action was to set up Messi, whose chip over Roberto looked to be heading into the net but was hooked clear by a defender just before it crossed the line.

It was not proving to be Messi's night and the striker looked to be suffering after his penalty miss at the weekend as he lacked his usual sharpness

Granada, however, didn't have one single chance all game and the home side were left with just nine players in injury time when referee Muniz Fernandez, who was very fussy all game, showed a second yellow card to Dani Benitez for complaining about a tight offside decision that went against him.

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