MADRID, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Barcelona snatched a late 2-1 win at Getafe with Paulinho’s strike sending them seven points clear of arch-rivals Real Madrid at the top of La Liga on Saturday.
The Brazilian midfielder’s signing was widely criticised by supporters but he drove into the area and fired home to preserve Barcelona’s 100 percent record in the league.
Gaku Shibasaki scored a magnificent volley to put Getafe ahead in the 39th minute but another substitute, Denis Suarez, equalised for Barcelona in the 62nd.
Ernesto Valverde’s side struggled to create many openings against a bold Getafe, who came close to opening the scoring when Gerard Pique nearly deflected Shibasaki’s cross into his own net, with Jorge Molina reaching it but firing into the side netting.
Barcelona were dealt a blow when record signing Ousmane Dembele was forced off with a hamstring injury in the 29th minute, while his replacement Gerard Deulofeu had little impact.
Samuel Umtiti’s header straight at Vicente Guaita was as close as the Catalans came to netting in the first half, with the exception of a Lionel Messi free kick tipped over just before the break.
Suarez was introduced at half time, after captain Andres Iniesta had made little impact, and soon made his presence felt.
Receiving the ball from Sergi Roberto in the area, Suarez curled a neat finish past Guaita to level, against the run of play.
Paulinho came on in the 77th minute and seven minutes later he slammed home to put Barcelona ahead and extend their lead at the top of the table.
Getafe almost equalised with Marc-Andre ter Stegen tipping Mauro Arambarri’s effort wide at the near post, but they were left without reward after an impressive display.
Champions Real Madrid, who are lying 10th, travel to second-placed Real Sociedad on Sunday. (Editing by Clare Fallon)