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FC Barcelona have finally collected their first away win of the 2021/22 season and in doing to have extended their unbeaten run against the Yellow Submarine to an incredible 28 games.
After a goalless first half in which neither side was able to make anything of their many chances, Dutchmen Memphis Depay and Frenkie de Jong scored either side of Samuel Chukwueze’s equaliser, and a late Philippe Coutinho penalty made sure of three points that have done wonders for the team’s league position.
Those points have put Barça right back into contention for the Champions League places… but after such a promising start to his new role as Barça manager, Xavi Hernández will surely be aiming even higher.
Another strong but goalless start
For much of the night, anyone could have been forgiven for thinking they were watching a repeat of the games with Espanyol and Benfica. Once again Barça flew into the game. Ez Abde, in his first ever start (and a promising one it was too), brought out a spectacular save from home keeper Rulli, Gavi hit the post and Memphis missed the target in a one-on-one…
It was total early dominance from Barça but again nothing to show for it, and as the game progressed, the opposition started creating more and more trouble of their own. Pau Torres misjudged a simple header, Ter Stegen came to the rescue to deny Danjuma… and those were just the two clearest of several moments when Barça could have conceded.
VAR to the rescue
The interval came at the right time, and once we were back under way, Barça found the net. Memphis’s attempt stuck the keeper and his compatriot Frenkie de Jong snapped in the rebound. Although the goal was originally ruled out for offside, the decision was overturned by VAR and De Jong could celebrate his first goal of the season.
Villarreal fight back
Barça led, but not comfortably. Villarreal were still threatening and the loss of Jordi Alba to injury didn’t help the cause. An equaliser was never off the cards and it came with a quarter of an hour left on the clock.
It was a fine finish from substitute Chukwueze, and that was the first goal conceded of the Xavi era. It was also the first goal the Nigerian had scored since scoring in a 2-1 loss to Barça in April.
And buoyed by the goal the home side pushed forth in search of more. These were dangerous moments for Barça, and sharper shooting from Villarreal and they could easily have been trailing.
Two late goals!
But just when getting away with a draw might not have been such a bad prospect, up stepped that man Memphis again! Just two seconds were left on the clock when the Dutchman’s eighth goal of the season (and the fourth game in a row in which he’s found the target) came from a beautiful piece of control and the coolest of angled finishes.
Barça had it… and just to make sure there was another goal to come in injury time. Late substitute Coutinho was brought down in the area and the Brazilian took the penalty himself. A fine finish, that was 3-1, and that was the first away win of the Liga season for FC Barcelona.
Onwards and upwards… Força Barça!
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