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Robert Lewandowski’s retaken penalty gives Barcelona late win at Celta Vigo

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 17 Feb 2024

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Robert Lewandowski snatched a dramatic late victory for Barcelona at Celta Vigo, converting a retaken penalty deep in injury-time for a 2-1 win.

The Catalan giants were on course for a second straight draw after old foe Iago Aspas cancelled out Lewandowksi’s first goal with a deflected effort just after half-time, his 200th career strike.

But with almost 97 minutes on the clock, the tension ramped up as the veteran striker stood over a last-gasp spot-kick and missed.

Lewandowski held his head in his hands but was offered a lifeline when the referee judged that goalkeeper Vicente Guaita had stepped off his line and ordered it to be taken again.

Unfazed, the 35-year-old repeated the same stuttering run-up as before and slotted it home to secure the points for his side and his 50th goal in Barca colours.

It was a much-needed result for Xavi’s men, who have endured a difficult campaign and would have been disappointed to let another result slip through their fingers after being held 3-3 by Granada last time out.

For Celta it was a harsh blow, denying them a hard-earned share of the spoils and leaving them just three points above the relegation zone.

Barca dominated the ball in the first half, but struggled to generate clearcut chances to make the possession count. Lamine Yamal was first to try his luck but could not beat Guaita, while Joao Cancelo screwed a shot wide.

Despite Aspas’ best efforts the hosts were unable to find a foothold and kept absorbing pressure, Andreas Christensen heading wide at a corner and and Ronald Araujo failing to get an effort away.

The dam broke with the interval approaching, Jules Kounde feeding the ball upfield and Yamal playing in Lewandowksi from the wing. The Poland star’s first touch was an instinctive flick off the outside of the boot, taking the ball away from his marker in an instant, and his second was a rifled finish from the edge of the penalty area.

That should have settled Barca but instead they held their lead less than two minutes after the restart. It was Celta’s smoothest move of the match, Jorgen Strand Larsen and and Oscar Mingueza both producing back-heeled touches to play in Aspas as he ran through on goal.

His shot left Marc-Andre ter Stegan with no chance, but only after a hefty deflection off Kounde. Aspas has been a nuisance for Barcelona’s teams for over a decade and took his tally against them to 11 goals in 19 games.

The 36-year-old looked to have settled the draw, with substitutes Raphina and Ilkay Gundogan unable to rally a winner for the visitors and Carl Starfelt marshalling a solid defensive response.

Added time was already well under way when Fran Beltran fouled Yamal in the box, ushering in the penalty drama that offered Lewandowski two bites at the cherry from 12 yards.

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