Spanish champions Barcelona traveled to Estadio de Gran Canaria for their La Liga Matchday 19 clash with Las Palmas on Thursday night (January 4). Despite having a much stronger squad, Xavi’s title aspirants failed to dominate the mid-table outfit and were fortunate to walk away with all three points.
Two Ex-Barcelona Attackers Torment The Visitors In First Half
Aiming for a top-half finish this season, Las Palmas’ primary goal was to avoid defeat against Barcelona. In the first 10 minutes, they focused on the basics, covering Barca’s attackers and stringing passes together without taking too many risks. In the 12th minute, their straightforward yet effective approach paid dividends, with them putting their noses in front in excellent fashion. Former Barcelona attacker Sandro Ramirez received the ball from Javier Munoz and delivered a low cross into the box. Another Ex-Barca ace, Munir outsmarted Ronald Araujo to connect with the delivery at the edge of the six-yard box and steer it beyond Barca goalkeeper Inaki Pena.
In the 23rd minute, Sandro got an opportunity to get on the scoresheet himself, but his shot lacked power, which allowed Pena to parry it behind for a corner. Five minutes later, Munoz tested Pena with a powerful strike, which the goalkeeper managed to push as far as Sandro. The Spanish forward promptly had a go at goal but saw his effort zip wide of the mark.
Five minutes before the first-half whistle, Munir found himself clear through on goal. Luckily for Barcelona, the forward’s first touch was heavy, which allowed Araujo to recover and deflect his shot behind for a corner.
Gundogan Wins The Game For Barca With Controversial Penalty
After a lackluster first half, which saw them narrowly escape with a 1-0 deficit, Barcelona got themselves the equalizer in the 55th minute. Bouncing off Robert Lewandowski, the ball fell to Sergi Roberto, who helped the ball onto Ferran Torres’ path. From close range, the ex-Manchester City man guided the ball into the bottom-right corner.
Roughly 10 minutes after Barca debutant Vitor Roque saw his volley saved by Las Palmas goalkeeper Alvaro Valles, the Catalans scored the winner from the penalty spot. In stoppage time, Joao Felix went for goal from a tight angle on the right side. Valles blocked the effort but the ball looped toward the far post, where Ilkay Gundogan was lurking. Just as the midfielder leaped to make contact with the ball on the goalline, Daley Sinkgraven pushed him. The German tumbled over and the referee unhesitantly awarded a penalty to the Blaugrana. To make matters worse, he also sent Sinkgraven off for obstructing a clear goalscoring opportunity.
The former Manchester City captain stepped up to take the penalty and rolled it into the bottom-left corner, sealing maximum points for the visitors. The win took Barcelona’s points total to 41 in 19 games. Currently sitting in third place, Xavi men trail league leaders Real Madrid by seven points.