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FC Barcelona have beaten Sevilla 1-0 at Camp Nou and in doing so have leap-frogged the Andalusians to move up to second place in the Liga table.
It was a tight, tough battle between the home side’s attacking prowess and the visitors’ rock solid defending and could have been heading for stalemate had it not been for a moment of absolute genius in the 72nd minute.
Pedri’s goal is one to watch over and over again. It was coolness personified as he outfoxed both Ivan Rakitic and Diego Carlos before deftly converting the most magnificent of finishes.
That goal was as beautiful as it was important. As things stand, Barça only have Real Madrid between them and the title. There are still a lot of points to make up on the leaders, but there’s also still a lot of football still to be played this season. We can still dream…
On a very chilly night in the Catalan capital, Barça always looked the more comfortable of the two sides. There’s a confidence to the way they play their football now and right from the start they looked the more likely of the two sides to score.
There were headers for Frenkie de Jong and Ronald Araujo, both Ferran Torres and Jordi Alba had decent pops. And Ousmane Dembélé was creating plenty of chances that didn’t find a taker and Aubameyang would have scored on the stroke of half-time had Sevilla keeper Bono not been wise to his idea.
But Sevilla are an exceptionally well-organised unit. Going into this game they had only conceded 19 league goals all season, and we could see why. The first half was very much a case of the visitors surviving rather than creating much in the way of attacking football of their own, but their plan was working.
There had been frustratingly few real wow moments in front of goal for the home fans to enjoy.
We started seeing a lot more of what Sevilla could do up front in the second half, and this naturally gave Barça a little more room to operate in when they went forward themselves. Ferran in particular was getting closer and closer to finding the net, Bono made two brilliant saves in rapid succession and Gerard Piqué headed onto the crossbar.
Sevilla might have been defending brilliantly but one felt Barça should have already scored and surely had to eventually.
And when they finally did, it had been well worth the wait.
Pedri collected from Dembélé on the edge of the area and shuffled sideways twice before finally deciding he’d found the right spot. He very deliberately stroked the ball through the gap he'd found and sent it to the only place where Bono was never going to reach it…
Some goal! And that was 1-0.
Although Barça led, they really did need another one to make sure of things. But the remaining 20 minutes were mainly about Sevilla pushing for an equaliser and with a little more sharpness on the final passes they may well have done it.
They came closest in injury time, when Ter Stegen didn’t deal too well with a cross and ended up laying up a strong chance for Agustinsson. The German stopper immediately redeemed himself by making a fabulous save and Barça could breathe again.
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