Shock for Barcelona


Radamel Falcao scored his first goal against Barcelona in eight years in powering Rayo Vallecano to a 1-0 triumph on Wednesday evening at the Estadio de Vallecas.

It was another limp performance from Barcelona, who mustered little in attack and were defeated by a classic finish from the legendary Colombian striker. Adding to the misery was Memphis Depay’s failure to convert a second-half penalty, leaving Barcelona winless away from home in five LaLiga matches.

After opening his Barcelona account in Sunday’s Clasico loss to Real Madrid, Sergio Aguero earned his first start under coach Ronald Koeman, who also opted to keep Sergino Dest in a more advanced winger role, while Sergi Roberto was slotted in at right-back.

The teams traded chances in the first half-hour with Oscar Trejo and Falcao probing the Barcelona goal for the hosts, while Memphis and Dest had looked at the goal for the Catalan visitors.

Things changed though shortly thereafter when Sergio Busquets lost a ball in midfield, leading to a Rayo break that ended with Trejo playing to Falcao, who made a move to shake Gerard Pique and fired in a shot that beat goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for a 1-0 Rayo lead.

For the second straight match, Dest had it on a silver platter to give his side an equaliser, but just like against Los Blancos, the United States international skied a shot over the crossbar from up close.

Barcelona’s poor finishing carried into the second stanza, this time with Nico Gonzalez wasting a chance after receiving a floated one pass from Eric Garcia, followed by two looks for Aguero, who was off-target on the first and then was stopped by Rayo goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski on the second.

Koeman made his first substitution on the hour mark, with the forgotten Yusuf Demir getting 30 minutes in place of Sergi Roberto, and Barcelona’s efforts looked like they would finally pay off when Oscar Valentin brought down Memphis in the area, but the Dutchman’s penalty was saved by Dimitrievski.

Back to the bench went Koeman, with Gavi summoned to replace the ineffective Philippe Coutinho and then later Luuk de Jong for Nico, but it made no difference whatsoever, as Barcelona failed to convert any of their last-gasp chances to slump to another away loss.

Real Madrid drop points

Real Madrid were held in check by a stiff Osasuna defence in a 0-0 final on Wednesday night at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

The visitors from Pamplona were one of the few sides this season to keep the Madrid attack under wraps, limiting the hosts to just a few chances at goal.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti made several changes from the team that started El Clasico on Sunday, with Eduardo Camavinga for Luka Modric, Dani Carvajal for Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio for Rodrygo.

There was very little in the way of chances in the first half, with just a smattering of efforts from the home side. That was down to Osasuna’s excellent defensive resolve in keeping Los Blancos under wraps.

Ancelotti made a change at the break, swapping on Rodrygo for Camavinga, but it was actually Osasuna who had the best look in the second stanza when a Chimy Avila square ball across met the foot of Jon Moncayola, whose one-timer stung the post.

Madrid also experienced their share of bad luck with the woodwork, as a Karim Benzema shot slammed off the crossbar after some good work by the French striker to create space.

It was all Madrid in the final half-hour, with the home side desperate to not let the three points escape, as Ancelotti opted for Marcelo, Lucas Vazquez and the maligned Eden Hazard for a spark in place of Ferland Mendy, Carvajal and Asensio, respectively.

Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Vinicius all had cracks at goal in the late going, but nothing that got past Osasuna goalkeeper Sergio Herrera, leaving Madrid two points lighter.


Courtesy: MARCA

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