Thursday, June 30, 2022

Xavi: Barcelona dropped two points at Espanyol

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 13 Feb 2022

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Barcelona head coach Xavi believes his side were unfortunate to not walk away with all three points despite requiring a last-gasp equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Espanyol on Sunday.

Raul de Tomas fired Vicente Moreno’s hosts ahead in the second half after Pedri and Sergi Darder exchanged first-half strikes at the RCDE Stadium.

Luuk de Jong then delivered a last-gasp header to salvage a point as both sides ended with 10 men, after Gerard Pique and Nicolas Melamed were dismissed for two bookable offences following a confrontation between the pair.

Manuel Morlanes also saw red on the touchline for dissent following De Jong’s equaliser, which was Barca’s 10th headed goal in LaLiga this season – no team has scored more this term, while it is their best tally since the 2016-17 campaign.

While the draw meant Real Betis now have a four-point advantage in third over the Blaugrana, Barca set a LaLiga record as they made it 24 games unbeaten against Espanyol, the most in derby matches in the competition’s history.

However, Xavi felt his side deserved more than a draw at their Catalan rivals.

“It was a game to win,” Xavi told Movistar after the game. “When we were at our best we were able to make it 2-0. 

“In the end, when the score was 2-1, it seems like you won a point, but analysing it I think it was ours to win. 

“We dominated well and we had more chances. We lost two points. We’ve been in Espanyol’s half the whole game. They’ve come two or three times and they’ve been very effective. The other day we were and that pays off.”

Real Madrid remain a distant dream for Barca, who are 15 points behind the LaLiga leaders as the Blaugrana look to cling onto the final Champions League qualification spot.

“The league is very difficult and it’s a step backwards but you have to keep fighting,” he added.

Ousmane Dembele, who seemed set to leave Barca amid a breakdown in contract negotiations, was introduced as a second-half substitute as Xavi chased the game and the Spaniard is pleased to have the winger to call upon.

“Dembele is one more, he can help us, and today he has helped us,” Xavi continued. “He has played good minutes. He is one more for the cause.”

Barca will look to close the gap on Betis when they are next in league action at Valencia on Sunday.

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