Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Barcelona make just one change for derby with Espanyol

Francesc Rubi Francesc Rubi EFE
Cassandra Castillo | 09 December, 2018, 00:29

Lionel Messi celebrates against Espanyol (Joan Monfort/AP).

The Spanish champions were utterly dominant in the first 30 minutes of action, but Espanyol did have chances to register before the end of the first period, with Marc Roca having a strike deflected wide and Oscar Duarte coming close on two occasions with headers. Messi got up to send the resulting free-kick over the wall and into the top right corner.

Victor Sanchez headed over the Barcelona crossbar 10 minutes from time as Espanyol continued to search for a goal, and it nearly arrived when Baptistao struck towards the far corner, but the ball just deflected wide.

It was 2-0 on 26 minutes when Messi picked out Dembele in the Espanyol penalty area and the France global cut back inside to curl the ball past Lopez.

Goals from Brais Menzez, Okay Vokusli and Maxi Gomez had put Celta 3-0 ahead, but goals from Carlos Bacca in the 83rd and 87th minutes for Villarreal left Celta clinging on for all three points.

Dembele turned provider this time, slipping his fellow forward in in the left-hand channel, with Suarez doing brilliantly to hold off the challenge of a defender and somehow squeeze a finish through the legs of Lopez and into the far corner from the narrowest of angles.

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Dembele was sent clear before feeding Messi in a crowded Espanyol penalty area and his shot was blocked by Diego Lopez.

Understandably, Barca took their foot off the gas in the second half, though the feeling that they could re-find their intensity and cutting edge at a moment's notice remained.

On 65 minutes, Messi made Espanyol pay again for another needless foul which gave away a free-kick 25 yards out, to the left of centre.

Hernan Perez headed over the crossbar late in the first period as Espanyol searched for a route back into the match, but Barcelona all but secured the points in the final minute of the first period.

Messi was in fine form against derby rivals Espanyol.

However, following a lengthy review from the Video Assistant Referee, the goal was ruled out for a marginal offside.

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