Barca took the lead Mark Alonso In the seventh minute, Joselu became the villain midway through the second half when he caught a heel inside the box. The Espanyol striker fired the ball into the middle from the spot to earn his side a point.
The game threatened to spiral out of control from there, with both sides reduced to 10 men in the final 15 minutes, as Barca desperately searched for a winner that never came. Here’s ESPN’s Sam Marsden with reaction and analysis from Camp Nou.
1. Barcelona’s winning run halted by Espanyol
Barcelona’s five-match winning run in La Liga ended as they drew 1-1 with Espanyol in a fiery Catalan derby at the Camp Nou on Saturday, leaving Xavi Hernandez’s side level. Real Madrid on top of the table.
Marcos Alonso’s early header put Barca ahead, but a relatively straightforward match turned on its head when Joselu equalized from the penalty spot in the 73rd minute. This is Barca’s first goal at home this season.
The game then spiraled out of control, with referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz taking center stage. Jordi Alba And Vinicius Souza was sent off to make either side one short and Barca chased down a winner to restore their two-point lead against Madrid, who beat Real Valladolid Friday. However, Espanyol goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez made two excellent saves Robert Lewandowski — who was playing Friday after serving a three-game suspension — and Andreas Christensen To gain a valuable point for the away side.
Barca will reflect on what happened before the chaos, though, and the lack of quality in the final third they largely dominated throughout the first hour. Questions will also be asked RafinhaWho was off color, and Ansu FatiWho has yet to look like the teenager who burst onto the scene as a string of injuries derailed his progress.
2. Matu Lahoz is back in the spotlight
Referee Matu Lahoz cannot help but become the center of attention in almost every match. He did this in the quarter finals of the World Cup Argentina And The NetherlandsA FIFA record 17 yellow cards issued, and he managed to do so here in his first La Liga game since the break.
After awkwardly kissing Barca coach Xavi on the cheek in the first half, he lost control of the game 10 minutes into the second half, fueled by the decision to award Espanyol a penalty. Six yellow cards followed in four minutes, including two for Alba, who received his marching orders. After two minutes, Vinicius Picked up his second booking to level the match at 10 vs 10.
A brawl ensued between the two teams, with Matu throwing away his yellow card in excitement and then showing a red card. Leandro Cabrera For what appears to be a stamp on Lewandowski. After a lengthy VAR review, Cabrera was dismissed, much to the excitement of the Camp Nou crowd. They’ve been on Matu’s case from the start, mocking his name before the match, but now the noise is gone. And the zears were replaced by explosive spells.
3. Espanyol show they are better than they are in La Liga
Espanyol are just one point above the relegation zone, but even before this match at Camp Nou there was a feeling that they are better than their league position. That would seem true after they produced a performance that showed they should be too good to be dragged into the relegation battle.
In Joselu, they have one of the best strikers in the league, who now has eight goals on the season. behind him, Sergey Darder During his time at Granada he proved that he is one of the most underrated midfielders in Spain and that Diego Martínez is a very intelligent coach. They now need to replicate the fire they played against Barca in every game. Thankfully, then, they have another derby coming up against them girona Next week.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen 6; Sergi Roberto 6, Andreas Christensen 7, Marcos Alonso 6, Jordi Alba 5; the cow 7, Frankie Young 7, Pedri 7; Rafinha 5, Robert Lewandowski 6, Ansu Fati
Members: Sergio Busquets 6, Bring back Torres 6, Ousmane Dembele 6, Alex Bucket 6, Jules Count 6.
Espanyol (4-2-3-1): Alvaro Fernandez 8; Oscar Gill 6, Sergio Gomez 6, Leandro Cabrera 6, Brian Olivan 6; Vinicius 5, Fernando Calero 5; Nicholas Melamed 6, Sergey Darder 5, Martin Braithwaite 6; Joselu 7.
Members: Javier Puado 6, Edu Exposito 6, Simo 6, Alex Vidal 6, Ruben Sanchez 6.
Best and worst performers
Best: Alvaro Fernandez, Spanish
The Espanyol stopper made six saves, but he saved his best for last, keeping out Christensen and Lewandowski in the latter stages of the game.
Worst: Rafinha, Barcelona
Saw a lot of the ball in the first half but was let down by his deliveries. His afternoon was summed up by receiving a short corner from Frenkie de Jong and letting the ball slip away for a goal kick with his first touch.
Highlights and notable moments
Like many teams this weekend, Barcelona paid a silent tribute before the match the firstwho died on Thursday.
If you get RIP pic.twitter.com/JT0IK7hkWR
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 31, 2022
Hey, remember this guy from the World Cup? Never a dull moment when he whistles, that’s for sure…
Matu Lahoz had 14 bookings, three red cards and one dismissal in the Barcelona vs Espanyol match.
He was the referee who handed out 17 yellow cards during Argentina vs Netherlands in the World Cup.
At least he’s consistent 😅 pic.twitter.com/t3oS5AbW05
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 31, 2022
And in a chaotic spell late in the second half, Espanyol grabbed a crucial equalizer and held on for a point that will give them confidence heading into 2023.
Marcos Alonso gave Espanyol a penalty, which striker Joselu Couli converted to make it 1-1.
What the players and managers said after the match
Key Stats (via ESPN Stats & Facts)
Marcos Alonso’s goal was his first in La Liga (9 career games played)
Coming into this game, Barcelona had won 15 consecutive meetings in all competitions against Espanyol at the Camp Nou since a 2-1 loss in La Liga in 2009.
Barcelona Xavi’s side make the Copa del Rey trip to third-tier CF Intercity on Wednesday (January 4), and you can expect a rotated XI to feature as their next La Liga game is here. Atlético Madrid (January 8). With fixtures coming thick and fast after the World Cup break and Christmas, they can’t afford to slip up.
Espanyol: There is no rest for the struggling La Liga side in the new year. They have a tricky Copa del Rey game against them on Tuesday (January 3). Celtic Vigo before a home date with Girona in La Liga on January 7.