Football

Euro league | Espanyol holds 10-man Barcelona

Clean finish: Wu Lei underlined Espanyol’s numerical advantage with this late strike for a share of points against Barcelona.

Clean finish: Wu Lei underlined Espanyol’s numerical advantage with this late strike for a share of points against Barcelona.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Wu Lei’s late strike secures a dramatic draw in Catalan derby

Barcelona was pegged back by La Liga’s bottom club Espanyol as Wu Lei struck late to secure a dramatic 2-2 draw in a thrilling Catalan derby.

Luis Suarez appeared to have inspired another turnaround at the RCDE Stadium on Saturday after he cancelled out David Lopez’s opener with a deft half-volley before digging out an exquisite pass for substitute Arturo Vidal to finish.

But a red card for Frenkie de Jong with 16 minutes left gave Espanyol renewed hope and Chinese forward Wu emerged the hero, firing past stand-in goalkeeper Neto to rescue a point in Abelardo Fernandez’s first game in charge.

Sending off

“De Jong’s sending off hurt us,” said Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde.

“We could have scored a third and then in one play we conceded. We had the game under control. The red card unsettled us a little.”

Barcelona remains top of the table but only on goal difference, its two-point advantage removed after Real Madrid earlier clinched an impressive 3-0 win away at Getafe.

Atletico Madrid moved up to third after beating Levante 2-1.

Espanyol has not beaten its local rivals in the league since 2009 and is still four points from safety, yet this performance should do wonders for morale.

Rescue mission

It will be hoping for another rescue mission from new coach Abelardo, who took over Alaves with six points from 13 games in 2018 and led it to 14th.

“This can be a turning-point,” he said. “But we have to compete just like today because it won’t be easy.”

Barca now switches its attention to the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia next week, where a Clasico final awaits if Real Madrid beats Valencia in the last four and it can overcome Atletico.

But Valverde will have much to ponder after defensive problems again undermined his team against the league’s bluntest attack.

Impressive start

Real Madrid made a more impressive start to its year as it picked apart a robust Getafe side, even without the suspended Sergio Ramos and injured Eden Hazard.

Raphael Varane was the instigator of two goals at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, first pressuring Getafe’s David Soria into a missed punch and an own-goal, before himself heading home a cross from Toni Kroos.

Luka Modric added a third deep into injury-time after a brilliant first-time pass by Gareth Bale had set Madrid away on the counter-attack.

Thibaut Courtois appears finally to be finding his best form after a rocky start since his summer move from Chelsea, making three strong saves before Varane’s second gave Madrid breathing space.

Two in five

Atletico has struggled for goals this season but scored two in five minutes at the Wanda Metropolitano as Angel Correa converted Kieran Trippier’s cross in the 13th minute before Felipe Monteiro added a second in the 18th.

In between, Levante also equalised through Roger Marti and it might have snatched a point at the end only for Jan Oblak to produce a brilliant save to deny Enis Bardhi.

The results: Sunday: La Liga: Granada 1 (Montoro 24) bt Real Mallorca 0; Real Sociedad 1 (Willian Jose 22) lost to Villarreal 2 (Trigueros 58-pen, Cazorla 72).

Serie A: Brescia 1 (Balotelli 18) lost to Lazio 2 (Immobile 42-pen, 90+1).

La Liga: Saturday: Valencia 1 (Gomez 27) bt Eibar 0; Getafe 0 lost to Real Madrid 3 (Soria 34-og, Varane 53, Modric 90+6); Atletico Madrid 2 (Correa 13, Felipe 18) bt Levante 1 (Roger 16); Espanyol 2 (D. Lopez 23, Wu 88) drew with Barcelona 2 (Suarez 50, Vidal 59).

Friday: Real Valladolid 2 (Unal 8, 79) drew with Leganes 2 (Braithwaite 4, Mesa Quevedo 13); Sevilla 1 (Nunez 60-o.g.) drew with Athletic Bilbao 1 (Capa 15).

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 2:02:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/euro-league-espanyol-holds-10-man-barcelona/article30487740.ece

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