Flat Barça claim late draw against Rayo

Flat Barça claim late draw against Rayo

Spanish champions Barcelona suffered a worrying 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano in La Liga on Saturday, following another underwhelming performance.

Surprising leaders Girona and rivals Real Madrid in second place have a chance to widen their lead over third-placed Catalonia over the next two days.

Unai López put Rayo ahead in the first half with a long-range shot, but Barça equalized in the 82nd minute with an own goal from Florian Lejeune.

The draw adds to the doubts over Barcelona, ​​who have not been at their best in recent weeks and will face Porto on Tuesday in a bid to advance to the Champions League knockout stages.

With Marc-Andre ter Stegen out with a back problem, Inaki Pena started in goal for Barça, while Xavi replaced the injured Gabi with the returning Frenkie de Jong in midfield.

The 19-year-old will be out for the season with a torn cruciate ligament, leaving Barcelona without a player the manager described as the “soul” of the team.

Before kick-off, Barcelona players wore shirts with his name on the back and the message: “We are with you, Gabi.”

Peña spilled the ball when he was first called on, but quickly recovered to avoid danger.

The goalkeeper denied Oscar Valentin after De Jong lost the ball on the edge of his own box.

Hosts Rayo have made a strong start, encouraged by the fact that they have defeated Barça in three of their last four meetings, including twice at the dilapidated Vallecas Stadium.

After 39 minutes, the ball was cleared and Lopez took the lead with a stunning shot into the bottom right corner from about 30 yards out.

Rayo came close to adding a second goal in stoppage time, but Alejandro Balde was alert and cut out Jorge de Frutos’ low cross-out, setting up both Rayo attackers to pounce.

lack of strength

Xavi said that Barça would miss Gavi’s “intensity, heart and courage” against Francisco Rodríguez’s team, and said he was proven right, although the team improved a little after the break.

Ferran Torres could have equalized with a header early in the second half, but his shot went too close to Rayo goalkeeper Stoll Dimitrievski.

Xavi quickly replaced his winger and after another disappointing substitution at the base of Barça’s midfield, brought on Oriol Romeu, followed by Ilkay Gundogan and Joao Félix.

Barça were looking for an equalizer, but Pedri headed Robert Lewandowski’s cross just wide of the target, and Gundogan’s free kick was also headed wide by Iñigo Martínez.

Raphinha’s shot hit the post and Rayo hacked Lewandowski’s effort from the rebound on the line.

In the end, the Catalans equalized with eight minutes remaining when Lejeune, under pressure from Lewandowski, diverted Bardet’s cross into his own net.

Rafinha fell under a challenge from Pacha Espino in stoppage time and called for a penalty, but the authorities did not respond.

Barcelona are currently without a win against Rayo in five games and could move seven points clear of Girona if they beat Athletic Bilbao in Montilivi on Monday.

Real Madrid, who are two points behind Barça, visit Cadiz on Sunday, while fourth-placed Atlético Madrid host Mallorca later on Saturday.

Source: guardian.ng

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