Barcelona needed a win to shorten the gap with Real Madrid in the title race, while Espanyol needed the three points to avoid relegation to LaLiga SmartBank ahead of the 2020-21 season. Only one side was going to come out on top and, as many expected would be the case, Los Blaugranas clinched the victory.
They had to work harder than expected to keep their undefeated streak at home, though. A goal from Luis Suarez early in the second half gave Barca a much-needed 1-0 win, but this turned out to be a sour journey for Los Pericos. Wednesday’s loss means they will play in the country’s second-tier league in the 2020-21 season.
The game got off to an intense start and, against all odds, Espanyol got off to a better start. Raul de Tomas was a constant threat upfront and nearly found the back of the net in the 10th minute, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen was magnificent to deny his effort. Barcelona struggled to create much in the final meters, and their first real chance came in the 22nd minute when Lionel Messi sent a free kick that went slightly wide off Diego Lopez’s goal.
Espanyol was inches away from scoring the opening goal late in the first half thanks to Adri Embarba, but his shot rattled off the crossbar when ter Stegen was beaten. Clement Lenglet came close to score an own goal as well, but the first 45 minutes ended scoreless. Espanyol had the better chances as a whole, though.
Two red cards to begin the second half
The second half began with the entrance of Ansu Fati in place of Nelson Semedo, but the youngster was sent off just three minutes later following a criminal challenge. Not to be outdone, Pol Lozano was sent off after a harsh tackle on Gerard Pique. The VAR assisted on both calls and it’s safe to say, it was the right choice in both sequences.
The first goal of the match finally came in the 56th minute thanks to Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan striker, who was having a below-average performance, capped a rebound inside the box to fire the ball home. It would be Barca’s lone goal in this contest, and they wouldn’t need anything else.
Espanyol attempted to turn things around and score a late goal, but they were unsuccessful in their approaches. Their best chance came thanks to de Tomas but, once again, ter Stegen denied him. The final whistle blew, and the Catalunya Derbi ended with a 1-0 win for the home side.
Barcelona shortened the gap with Real Madrid and are just one point away from them in the title race. As for Espanyol, they became the first Spanish club to get relegated to LaLiga SmartBank ahead of the 2020-21 campaign. This is the first time they get relegated since the time that happened in the 1992-93 season.
FC Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo (Fati, min. 46), Pique, Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Sergi Roberto, Busquets, Rakitic (Araujo, min. 92); Messi, Suarez (Braithwaite, min. 82), Griezmann (Vidal, min. 71)
Espanyol: Diego Lopez; Victor, Bernardo, Cabrera, Calero (Darder, min. 66), Vila; Lozano, David Lopez, Marc Roca (Wu Lei, min. 86), Embarba (Campuzano, min. 74); de Tomas
Goals: Suarez (1-0, min. 56)
Referee: Jose Luis Munuera Montero
Yellow Cards: David Lopez, de Tomas (ESP)
Red Cards: Fati (BAR), Lozano (ESP)
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