- Copy link
After Girona and Real Madrid both won their games this weekend, it was absolutely essential for FC Barcelona to do likewise on Sunday against Alavés. They did it in the end, but it was a nail-biting journey from start to finish.
The visitors took the lead straight from the kick-off and Barça made very hard work of getting themselves back into the match, eventually having Robert Lewandowski to thank both for a splendid header to equalise and then a penalty to settle three utterly crucial points.
Indeed, it had been the worst possible start. Barça were severely caught napping at the kick-off, allowing Javi López to storm off on a counter attack and set up Samu Omorodion to coolly tuck the cross home.
There were just 18 seconds on the clock, not even the quickest goal Barça have conceded this season because Granada scored even sooner, but it meant Alavés were effectively playing this game with a one-goal head start.
Barça could have been in even deeper trouble had Samu, the enormous Atlético loanee, not misfired both on both occasions when he was again face-to-face with Ter Stegen in the first half.
Those counter-attacks aside, Barça had very much regained their composure, but despite dominating the play, visiting keeper Antonio Sivera was only truly tested once in the whole first half when he managed to block a fantastic chance for Lewandowski.
It had all looked rather stale prior to the break, but whatever Xavi said to the players at half-time, it worked. Barça looked so much fresher and were soon back on level terms. Jules Kounde whipped in the cross and there was no way Sivera was getting anywhere near Lewandowski’s absolute humdinger of a header.
Having ended his six-game goal drought, the Polish striker would also be the man who put the ball in the Alavés net for the second time of the night, this time from the penalty spot.
It had been an agonising wait. There was so much more shape to everything FC Barcelona were doing, and so much less to what the Basques were doing, but the second goal just didn’t want to come until Ferran Torres was brought down by a textbook penalty.
Lewandowski didn’t look to have the slightest doubt that his kick was going in. And indeed it did. Barça had finally turned things around into their favour.
From there, they looked like they might go on to punish Alavés further, but the Basques refused to give up, and the final minutes were tense as the opposition pushed for a late equaliser.
But Barça held on, and that’s three very nervously earned points that will keep up the pressure on Girona and Real Madrid as la Liga now takes a fortnight off for international football.
- Copy link