It is tough to debut at Camp Nou: Luis Suarez defends Philippe Coutinho

Updated: Jan 30, 2018, 08:50 IST | Agencies

Uruguayan striker Luis defends new signing Philippe Coutinho's quiet first appearance for Barcelona after Messi's late strike ensures 2-1 win over AlavesLa Liga

Philippe Coutinho moves ahead with the ball during his Barcelona debut against Alaves at the Camp Nou on Sunday. pics/Getty Images
Philippe Coutinho moves ahead with the ball during his Barcelona debut against Alaves at the Camp Nou on Sunday. Pics/Getty Images

Striker Luis Suarez defended teammate Philippe Coutinho after the club-record signing made his full debut for Barcelona in their win over Alaves on Sunday. After his cameo off the bench in the Copa del Rey on Thursday, Coutinho was in the starting XI as La Liga leaders Barcelona came from behind to beat Alaves 2-1 at the Camp Nou.

A reported Euro160 million arrival from Liverpool, Coutinho experienced a quiet match before coming off for Paco Alcacer in the 66th minute. "It's difficult to debut in the Camp Nou in the league," Suarez was quoted saying by Goal.com. "Philippe was very good. He did very well trying to drive in the game and the team are happy with his contribution." Barcelona were forced to come from a goal down after John Guidetti's fortunate opener, but Suarez scored for the eighth game in a row to haul them level and a trademark Messi free-kick snatched the points late on.

Barcas Lionel Messi (left) celebrates his goal against Alaves with teammate Luis Suarez
Barca's Lionel Messi (left) celebrates his goal against Alaves with teammate Luis Suarez

Alaves had looked lively on the break and took a surprise lead in the 23rd minute. Barcelona were carved open as Guidetti raced into the box and, despite losing his balance, fired home at the near post. Coutinho was denied a debut goal by a Ruben Duarte block, before Messi brought a superb save from Fernando Pacheco from a curling free-kick. Pacheco denied Suarez when the Uruguayan was clean through and Paulinho came close before Suarez converted a deep cross from Andres Iniesta to equalise.
And just when they needed him, Messi popped up with his 20th league goal — a curling free-kick — to snatch victory.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverdes said he was happy with Coutinho performance. "Players are not machines who can fit in at once, like a new part," said Valverde. "He did well, he wanted the ball. This is one more step for him. The other day, he played 25 minutes, this time a little more, he will integrate little by little," he added.

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