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A late equaliser from Luuk de Jong salvaged a point for FC Barcelona at the RCDE Stadium, home of Espanyol, and means they have continued their incredible run of league games without defeat to their local rivals to 24. Not since 2009 have Espanyol beaten Barça in La Liga but just when their fans were celebrating the end of that negative run, up stepped the Dutchman to save Barça's day in dramatic fashion.
The game was only in its second minute when Barça had taken the lead through Pedri, and yet despite dominating huge throes of the game, Xavi Hernández’s side were finding themselves unable to add to that early opener while their hosts struck twice.
With two players sent off and the tension in overdrive, and deep into a long injury time, Adama Traoré sent a cross floating high into the area and De Jong towered above the blue and white defence to meet the ball and nod in an equaliser that keeps Barça in the Champions League places, albeit now only on goal difference ahead of Atlético Madrid.
So, a goal in the first minute and a goal in the very last minute earned Barça a point. Pedri’s goal came after Barça had strung together a very tasty move practically from the kick-off. Jordi Alba flipped in a superb cross, and the Canary Islander met the ball on the volley and sent it bouncing in off the post to record his first Liga goal of the campaign.
What followed was a game with all the intensity expected of a city derby. Barça clearly had the best of the first half, and Adama Traoré was once again a key contributor to almost everything going forward, but Espanyol were by no means mere spectators.
Espanyol bounce back
And on 37 minutes, the home side managed to turn one of their own attacks into a goal. And in all fairness, Sergi Darder’s finish was very good indeed. Ter Stegen had no chance.
Bad news at half-time. Ronald Araujo had soleus trouble and couldn’t go back out. Eric García, freshly recovered from his own fitness concerns, took his place.
Barça continued to be on top but couldn’t find the net… And even when Gavi did, VAR ruled it out for a marginal offside in the build-up.
Espanyol were also trying to press, but to much lesser effect than their visitors. There had been very little bother caused to the Barça defence… And out of nowhere they scored.
Darder’s ambitiously lofted long ball forward somehow found Raúl de Tomás, and the latter’s control and finish were evidence of why he’s the second highest goalscorer in this competition.
Barça didn’t deserve to be behind. But they were.
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ousmane Dembélé on as subs, Barça pushed hard in search of an equaliser but Espanyol, winless in 2022, were playing out of their skins to hold onto the result in front of a very excited crowd.
The tension was mounting and injury time would be played out ten against ten when Gerard Piqué and Nico Melemed were both given their marching orders for a scuffle.
In a messy climax to the game, Luuk de Jong had already seen one chance go wide before his header finally found the net and Barça can make the short trip home happy to have won a point, but at the same time feeling that they also let two get away.
Next up, it’s the Europa League on Thursday against Napoli (6.45pm CET).
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