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This game had presented a golden opportunity to tidy things up at the top of the table. Girona had been beaten for just the second time this season. Atlético Madrid lost too. And Barça were at home to a side that had only won two games all season.
But Granada were also a team that had gone an extraordinary four games without losing to Barça, and now that run has been extended to five following Sunday’s six-goal thriller at the Estadi Olímpic.
Granada came from behind to lead 2-1 and although Barça promptly equalised, the Andalusians just as promptly restored their lead at the other end,
Lamine Yamal, who was once again simply awesome every time the ball was at his feet, then made it 3-3 with an absolute corker, but in a gripping finale with chances for both sides, the fourth goal didn’t arrive and two very important points have been dropped on home turf.
Ter Stegen back
The game also brought the sight of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen on duty for the first time in three months now that his back troubles are behind him. Iñigo Martinez was also able to play his first game of 2024, and there was a further comeback when Raphinha went on for the last 15 minutes.
Barça powered into the game, and unquestionable man of the match Lamine Yamal was plugged in from the start. Having already been involved in a series of early chances, in the 14th minute he pounced on Joao Cancelo’s cross to volley home at the far post.
Granada was the team against which he scored his first ever Liga goal, and now the teenager had done it again.
Barça had chances to extend their lead, the best of which was a sublimely brilliant series of lightning passes, Pedri backheel included, before Granada defender Martin Hongla cleared Lewandowski’s final shot off the line.
But Barça weren’t having everything their own way, and it wasn’t entirely against the run of play when Granada equalised. Full-back Ricard Sánchez appeared from nowhere to rifle an unstoppable shot into the top right corner of Ter Stegen’s net, and that was 1-1.
A quarter of an hour into the second half, and Granada stunned the 41,901 crowd by scoring again. Newly acquired loanee Facundo Pellistri, who moments earlier had been outwitted by Ter Stegen in a one-on-one, capitalised on some poor defending by the home side to pop home Myrto Uzuni’s assist.
End to end drama
Barça needed to react, and it took them just three minutes to do it. Ilkay Gündoğan deftly laid the ball off to Lewandowski, and Pole delivered a fine finish.
Barça looked ready to go on and claim the match, but just three minutes later they were behind again.
Ter Stegen did well to reach defender Ignasi Miquel’s header, but frustratingly, he could only parry the ball onto the post and into his own net.
Again Barça needed to react and again they did. A first goal was (rightly) disallowed for offside, before Lamine Yamal made it 3-3 with a simply fabulous strike from outside the box.
What a goal. And what a performance from the 16-year-old, far and away the best player on the park today.
But unfortunately, not even his magic or eight minutes of injury time were enough to produce a late winner and ten points now separate Barça from Real Madrid at the top of the Liga table.
Next up for FC Barcelona is a trip to Celta Vigo on Saturday at 6.30pm CET.
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