Barça 1-1 Granada: Incomplete fightback
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FC Barcelona have dropped their first points at home in La Liga 2021/22, but with just a minute of regular time remaining they were heading for a 1-0 defeat.
They had battled long and hard to get back into the game, but the efforts didn't pay off until the very nick of time, when Ronald Araujo powered in a header. There were six minutes of time added on for stoppages, and the home side surged forth in search of a second goal and the full three points, but it was all to no avail they ultimately had to settle for a draw.
The pessimist might see this as two points dropped, the optimist will thank Araujo for a point saved, but the upshot of it all is that Barça are now five points off the top of the table... But the unbeaten record remains intact, and they do of course still have an all-important game in hand.
Ronald Koeman had made four changes to the side that also lost at home to Bayern six days earlier, with Sergiño Dest, Yusuf Demir, Philippe Coutinho and Alejandro Balde all getting a start. The latter’s first ever start in La Liga would be cut short after he picked up a back problem in the first half, but not without first impressing the Camp Nou faithful with his dangerous runs up the flank.
Indeed, Balde was one of the shining lights in a game that could not have got off to a worse start for the Catalans. It wasn’t even two minutes old when Domingos Duarte headed the visitors into the lead, and shell-shocked by the early setback, Barça an agonisingly long time to settle.
Sergi Roberto did rifle one onto the crossbar, but it wasn’t until late into the first half that they truly started to have the upper hand, when Araujo and Dest both had fabulous efforts denied by some superb goalkeeping from Maximiano in just his second game for his new club.
Barça had much more room for manoeuvre after the break as Granada seemed content to sit back and defend their lead. It was a case of one-way traffic, with Araujo and Memphis particularly active at the business end of it, but the visiting defence was proving frustratingly efficient at neutralising any danger.
Araujo to the rescue
Going into the final ten, substitute Luuk de Jong had had the best chance when he headed over with only the goalkeeper before him.
But just when it looked like Barça were on their way to a second home defeat to Granada in 2021, up stepped Araujo to change the script. It was Gavi, shortly after coming on, who whipped in the cross and the Uruguayan powered home the headed equaliser.
This may not have been a vintage Barça performance, but this was absolutely not a game they deserved to lose. If it’s one thing we love about this team, it’s the perseverance and the never giving up, and this was yet another example of the art.
And there were still six minutes of injury time to go. There was an adrenalin surge on both sides and the action was frenetic as football can get… Barça looking for a last ditch winner, Granada hanging on for dear life…
It was tense, it was dramatic, but there was no further scoring.
Barça will need to quickly regroup, with another league fixture to come in just three days’ time (at Cadiz, Thursday at 10.00pm CEST).
Barça: Ter Stegen, Dest, Araujo, Eric Garcia, Balde (Mingueza, min 42), Sergio (Riqui Puig, min 74), F. de Jong, Sergi Roberto (Luuk de Jong, min 46), Coutinho (Gavi, min 60), Memphis, Demir (Piqué, min 74).
Granada: Maximiano, Escudero (Carlos Neva, min 46), Abram (Germán, min 78), Duarte, Quini, Milla, Monchu, Eteki (Montoro, min 30), Machís, Puertas (Gonalons, min 66), Jorge Molina (Luis Suárez, min 66).
Goals: 0-1, Domingos Duarte (min 2), 1-1, Araujo (min 90)
Referee: Santiago Jaime Latre. Yellows for Mingueza, Araujo & Piqué (Barça) and Montoro, Gonalons, Maximiano, Monchu, Quini & Bacca (Granada).
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