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Barcelona hold off Alaves in first match since Xavi announcement

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 3 Feb 2024

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Barcelona beat Alaves 3-1 in LaLiga despite playing the last 20 minutes with a man less.

Alaves piled the pressure on in the first period but Barcelona, in their first game since manager Xavi announced he will resign in the summer, nicked the opening goal of the game through Robert Lewandowski’s ninth of the season.

The home side were looking for a fourth straight league win but their hopes seemed to be snuffed out when Ilkay Gundogan doubled Barca’s lead.

Samuel Omorodion brought the hosts back into the match a couple of minutes later before Vitor Roque came off the bench on the hour mark for a whirlwind few minutes. He slotted Barca’s third and then saw red for a second bookable offence, but Barca nevertheless held on for a fifth win in six league games.

The hosts were causing major problems for Barca through the early stages and Omorodion was waiting to tap in from six yards following Sola’s low cross, but Ronald Araujo was there to clear away from danger.

Back came Alaves in search of the opener, this time Omorodion first to meet a corner at the front post but his glancing header evaded everyone inside the area.

Against the run of play, Barcelona broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute when Lewandowski latched onto a clever through ball from Gundogan and the Poland striker dinked over Antonio Sivera to make it 1-0.

Alaves almost had an equaliser five minutes later as John Guridi nodded towards goal but Barca keeper Inaki Pena did well to push the ball away.

Another wonderful chance went begging for the home team when the ball fell perfectly for Omorodion inside the box but he lashed a volley wide of the target.

Barcelona started the second half in much more solid fashion and their efforts were rewarded with a second goal four minutes after the break when Pedri’s delicious cross found Gundogan at the back post and he volleyed across goal to double the visitors’ lead.

Alaves responded almost instantly when Sola’s cross found Omorodion who headed past Pena to cut the deficit back down to a solitary goal.

Barcelona re-established their two goal lead just after the hour mark with a well-worked team goal.

Lamine Yamal started the move as he danced past Javi Lopez and after a few quick passes, Hector Fort cut it back for Roque who tucked the ball into the bottom right corner.

Barcelona were forced to play the final 20 minutes with a man less after goalscoring substitute Roque was sent off for a second yellow card after just 13 minutes on the pitch.

The 18-year-old Brazilian was booked a few moments before and saw red after he appeared to clip Rafa Marin, which the referee deemed to be worth another yellow card as Barca players protested heavily.

Alaves searched for a route back into the game but Barcelona looked solid and held on to make it back-to-back wins.

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