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The pink-shirted blaugrana absolutely dominated Saturday night’s fixture and saw chance after chance go begging, and even played the last half hour against ten men, but even so they were unable to end a streak of what are now four Liga games without a win.
The home side pounced on a howler in the Barça defence to take the lead, and although Antoine Griezmann levelled after the break, the second goal never came.
Indeed, the first half was something of a comedy of errors, and not a very amusing one from a Barça point of view.
How were Barça not a goal ahead? Birthday boy Ansu Fati had to score… wide. Griezmann had to score… wide. Sergio Busquets had to score but opted to pass instead... And Leo Messi’s free looked on the way in but Lejeune cleared it off the line.
It was all Barça, but Alavés had already come close when a double save from Neto denied Edgar, and on the half hour did take the lead in the most bizarre of fashions.
A mix-up in the Barça midfield was resolved by Gerard Piqué passing back to Neto, but the goalkeeper was less prepared to receive the ball than the lurking Luis Rioja. It was a painful moment to watch. Rioja couldn’t quite believe his luck and the Basques would be a goal up at the break.
Barça had Alavés under extraordinary pressure, but the goal just didn’t want to come... until a potentially game-changing 63rd minute. Jota received a second yellow card and the home side were reduced to ten men. Moments later it was Alavés in a mess at the back and Griezmann beat the blue and white shirts to the loose ball to convert superbly and square up the scores.
Chasing the winner
Things had gone from despair to joy in the blink of an eyelid, but as the clock ticked down the all-important second goal was still lacking. It was not for want of trying, but Alavés defended desperately, and had Fernando Pacheco solid in goal and the lineman’s flag frequently coming to their rescue too.
In injury time the pink shirts were still all over the Alavés goal. Chance after chance, shot after shot, corner after corner. But nothing. Barça will still take one point from this game, but it feels like it should have been three.
The chances flowed... The goals didn't. But they will. Watch this space.
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