Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Espanyol 2-2 FC Barcelona: Wu Lei, Vidal Star Off The Bench In Thrilling Draw

Juan Pablo Aravena in Editorial, La Liga 4 Jan 2020

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The Catalunya Derby was far more intense than what anyone could have expected. Espanyol pulled a huge upset, and they escaped with a 2-2 draw against Barca after scoring a late equalizer in the 88th minute. David Lopez and Wu Lei scored for Espanyol, while Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal found the back of the net for Los Blaugranas.

The hosts got off to a better start in the first half and although they had to wait until nearly the 25th minute to score the first goal, it was clear they were comfortable in their first match of the 2020 year. Los Pericos eventually broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute thanks to David Lopez. The central midfielder nodded home a cross from Marc Roca.

Barcelona struggled to react in the first half, and their first clear scoring chance came in the 41st minute through a header from Lionel Messi. Suarez attempted to score in the very next minute, but his effort rattled the crossbar.

Espanyol were on top on the score, but Barcelona were dominating completely. But they needed a spark off the bench to turn things around. That spark was Vidal.

Vidal’s energy not enough to lead Barca to a win

The Chilean midfielder replaced Ivan Rakitic, and he wasted little time to make an impact. His energy sparked all over the place, and it allowed Barcelona to mount a quick second-half comeback. First it was Suarez, who nodded home a cross from Jordi Alba, and later it was Vidal himself. Following a deflection, the former Juventus star headed the ball past the keeper with an excellent finish.

It seemed as if Barcelona wouldn’t relinquish the lead during the remainder of the contest, but they had to play with 10 men down the stretch following the sending off of Frenkie de Jong. And despite the fact Barca had several chances to add a third goal, Los Blaugranas would end up conceding a late equalizer to Wu Lei.

The Chinese winger, who came off the bench late in the second half to replace an incumbent Oscar Melendo, evened things up in the 88th minute. He took advantage off a pass from fellow substitute Matias Vargas, and defeated Neto with a shot from the edge of the box.

The match ended with a stalemate, although the result shouldn’t leave anyone happy. Los Pericos remain winless at home with this result, while Barcelona remain at the top of the Liga standings but only lead Real Madrid based on their goal differential.

Match Report

Espanyol: Diego Lopez (6); Javi Lopez (5), Bernardo Espinosa (4), Naldo (5), Didac Vila (6); Victor Gomez (5) (Matias Vargas (6), 62’), Marc Roca (7), David Lopez (6) (Ander Iturraspe (5), 67’), Sergi Darder (5); Oscar Melendo (4) (Wu Lei (7), 74’), Jonathan Calleri (5)

Subs not used: Andres Prieto (GK), Adria Pedrosa, Lluis Lopez, Victor Campuzano

FC Barcelona: Neto (5); Sergi Roberto (6), Clement Lenglet (5), Gerard Pique (6), Jordi Alba (7); Ivan Rakitic (4) (Arturo Vidal (7), 46’), Sergio Busquets (6), Frenkie de Jong (4); Lionel Messi (7), Luis Suarez (7), Antoine Griezmann (5) (Nelson Semedo (-), 80’)

Subs not used: Inaki Pena (GK), Samuel Umtiti, Junior Firpo, Ansu Fati, Carles Perez

Goals: David Lopez (1-0, 23’), Luis Suarez (1-1, 50’), Arturo Vidal (1-2, 59’), Wu Lei (2-2, 88’)

Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande

Yellow Cards: Javi Lopez, Marc Roca (ESP); Frenkie de Jong (BAR)

Red Cards: Frenkie de Jong (BAR)

Venue: RCDE Stadium

Attendance: 33,562


Juan Pablo Aravena

A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.



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