Barcelona were saved by a last-attack equalizer in their city derby against Espanyol while Yunus Musah conceded the critical penalty in Valencia’s loss to Alaves.
Espanyol 2 – 2 Barcelona
Sergiño Dest had a solid, if unspectacular outing at right back in place of suspended Dani Alves, as Barcelona miraculously pulled off a draw in a testy derby against Espanyol that saw a total three red cards in injury time.
While he had little to do on the attacking end of things playing directly behind Pedri and Adama Traoré, Dest was highly efficient, completing 39 of his 40 passes amidst 55 total touches, successfully making two tackles to stop attacks, and winning three of his five duels on the ground against opposing players.
Barcelona started off on-fire, needing only 76 seconds for Pedri to sneak in at the right post, where he easily poked away Jordi Alba’s looping pass from deep in the left flank.
Traoré forced Espanyol keeper Diego López into a full-body block in the 38th minute, however the hosts kept their composure and equalized two minutes later.
The Barcelona defense was too passive as Raúl de Thomás held the ball on the left side of the area, and gave Sergi Darder ample space to receive the lay-off at the top edge. He proceeded to settle, take a step and loop a shot into the right side of Marc Andre ter Stegen’s goal.
The visitors thought they had retaken the lead ten minutes after the halftime break when Gavi fought for possession at six yards out and put his shot away, but the joy was short-lived with VAR showing that Frenkie de Jong was offside in the build-up.
Not even ten minutes later, this reversal was particularly bitter as de Thomás slipped between the Dest and Eric Garciá, with the latter in particularly doing a sloppy job to keep him on-side, and beat ter Stegen from near the penalty spot for the 2-1 advantage.
Barcelona still pushed forward with the confidence that they could grab an equalizer, with the the final dramatic conclusion saved for six-minutes of added time given by the referees.
In the 92nd minute, as Barcelona began a quick counter, Espanyol’s Nico earned a second yellow for a tactical foul on Gerard Piqué, who took exception to the pint-sized pesterer, and also saw a second yellow of the game for his response. This left both teams with only ten men on the field for the final minutes.
Then in the 96th minute – on the last Barcelona attack of the game – Traoré sent a long pass from deep in the right flank into the six-yard box, where de Jong connected with fine header from the penalty spot to pull the teams even.
In the midst of the celebrations, Espanyol bench player Manu Morlanes felt the need to complain excessively about some perceived injustice, and was shown a straight red.
The referee’s whistle blew seconds later, awarding a point to each team.
The Blaugrana are still in fourth place with the tough point earned, although are only ahead of Atletico Madrid on head-to-head. They next have the indignity of playing in the Europa League knockout round when they host Napoli on Thursday, then visit Valencia in league play three days later.
Alaves 2 – 1 Valencia
Yunus Musah made a fifth straight league start for Valencia on their trip to Alaves on Sunday afternoon, however had a game he would likely prefer to put in the past after conceding the penalty that ended up putting their hosts in the win column.
As has been the case recently, Matt Miazga stayed glued to the Alaves bench, however in a lucky break could be called into action next weekend after starter Victor Laguardia picked up a fifth yellow card to earn a one-game suspension.
Musah put in a full 90-minute shift for the first time in Valencia’s current La Liga campaign. While proficient, with 38 total touches and a 72% passing rate, he was relatively ineffective in Valencia’s overall push towards goal, as they were unable to turn their nearly 60% of possession and overall control of the game into anything more than a single goal from the spot.
Previously moribund Alaves were first to strike, as the Valencia defense failed to deal with a 14th-minute corner, which eventually landed at the foot of Mamadou Loum near the left upright for an easy finish.
Valencia eventually equalized from the spot in the 62nd minute, after the ball brushed Jason’s arm near the endline, with Goncalo Guedes coolly slotting his spot kick to the lower left corner, where it bounced off the upright and over the line.
Valencia were given hope that they could eventually create a winner, but their inability to find any real bite in their attack ended up biting them on the backside; Musah was a bit too uncontrolled with a challenge on Gonzalo Escalante just inside the area, leading to a spot kick being awarded to the hosts.
Joselu easily converted with a shot to the right side, leaving Valencia keeper Giorgi Mamardashvili watching the winner fly into the net as the dove in the opposite direction.
The result sees Valencia further drop into 12th, with a tough home game against surging Barcelona on Sunday. Alaves climb to 18th, still three points underwater, with a daunting visit to Real Madrid on Saturday.
CD Alcorcon 0 – 2 CD Tenerife
Shaq Moore was a late defensive substitute while Samuel Shashoua didn’t make it off of Tenerife’s bench on Sunday afternoon for their convincing shut-out win on the road against last-place Alcorcon.
As has often been the case this season, Moore began the game on the bench, and was called upon as a second-half substitute – this time in the 76th minute – for usual right-back starter Jeremy Mellot.
By the time Moore entered the game, the result was already all but secured for the visitors, with a goal on either side of the halftime break.
Alex Muñoz perfectly placed a long-distance shot from close to 40 yards in the 37th minute to give Tenerife the lead, then David Fernández hit a low, deflected shot that looped in at the far post for the 51st minute 2-1 advantage.
Moore entered for Mello in the final quarter-hour, but by then there was little work to do against the toothless Alcorcon attack, giving Tenerife an easy path to the 2-0 victory.
With 15 games still left to play, Tenerife climb to third, currently three points behind second-place Almeria, who occupy the second automatic promotion spot. They will next be in action on Sunday when they host ninth-place UD Ibiza.
Matthew Hoppe will hope to see minutes for Mallorca on Monday night when they host Athletic Bilbao.
Jonathan Gomez will still be looking for his European debut on Monday evening when Real Sociedad B pay a visit to SC Ponferradina in La Liga 2 action.