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FC Barcelona have failed to collect their first points on the road against a stubborn Rayo Vallecano side that took the lead through Radamel Falcao after 30 minutes and managed to hold out against a constant onslaught from the Barça frontline.
The Catalans threw everything at their hosts, a missed Memphis penalty included, and can feel very unfortunate to come out of this game without a point to show for their efforts. But all the credit has to go to a Rayo side that’s been performing very well indeed this season.
Indeed, Rayo have been on the wrong end of some heavy poundings by Barça over the years, and were on a 14-game losing streak against the Catalans, but they didn’t look intimidated by the challenge in front of them on Wednesday night.
They had won every game at Vallecas this season, and were very intent on making sure that that was the record that remained intact.
On the half hour they took the lead. Oscar Trejo robbed Sergio Busquets in midfield, and picked out Falcao with the pass. The Colombian outwitted Gerard Piqué and Barça were playing catch-up.
Rayo’s route one approach was in stark contrast to Barça’s typical possession and passing game. The latter was certainly producing plenty of options, but as has been so often the case this season, when the chances came they just weren’t getting buried.
Barça needed more intensity and it came after the break. Sergio Agüero, getting his first start for the club, and young Nico were especially active. Philippe Coutinho, celebrating his 100th appearance, was also getting involved in pegging Rayo further and further back into their own half.
Such efforts deserved an equaliser and it looked Barça had it when Memphis took a shove in the back and was recompensed with a penalty. But Rayo keeper Stole Dimitrievski read it right and it was still 1-0.
Rayo hold out
Vallecas was buzzing, but there was still plenty of football to be played, including eight minutes of injury time… And Barça were determined to use every second of it in their quest to get a result out of this.
Yusuf Demir and Agüero both had particularly agonisingly fine chances to finally find the net, but the closest of all came when Gavi looked poised to salvage a point right at the final gasp but the ball bounded over the bar.
Next up is Alavés at Camp Nou on Saturday, kick-off 9.00pm CEST.
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