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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Barcelona have Luis Suarez take centre stage in Girona win as Lionel Messi enjoys night off

The Uruguayan impresses coach Valverde as the Primera Liga leaders maintain their fine start to the season.

Luis Suarez was on target in Barcelona's victory over Girona. Albert Gea / Reuters
Luis Suarez was on target in Barcelona's victory over Girona. Albert Gea / Reuters

Lionel Messi was the star of Barcelona’s blistering start to the season yet with the Argentine suffering a rare off night and big-money signing Ousmane Dembele missing through injury, it was Luis Suarez who claimed the headlines in his 100th Liga appearance for the club on Saturday.

The Uruguayan sealed a comfortable 3-0 victory over Catalan rivals Girona, after own goals by Aday Benitez and Gorka Iraizoz had put them in charge, with a clinical finish late on to reach a remarkable tally of 87 goals in his century of league games.

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The figures are all the more impressive given that it took Suarez almost two months to break his duck in Catalonia and that his form has been erratic this season. Before Saturday, he had just one league goal to his name and he sat out Tuesday’s 6-1 thrashing of Eibar.

“It’s important for a forward who lives for goals to score. We’re delighted for him but it’s also important to point out that when he hasn’t been scoring he has been giving us other, important things: hard work, a team player, linking play,” said technical secretary Robert Fernandez of Suarez after the game.

A controversial figure, having twice been banned for biting opponents, Suarez has been a mainstay in the Barca frontline since joining from Liverpool in 2014.

Known for his tireless work ethic, he has also laid on 51 goals in the league for team mates with his 100 games comprising 77 wins, 11 draws and 12 losses.

“Forwards live for goals. They can be low on confidence at times but they score and everything changes,” coach Ernesto Valverde said of Suarez.

“His relationship with scoring goals is good for us. We’re delighted with how many chances he’s able to create.”

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