In far-from-ideal circumstances, Barcelona claimed three huge points away to Mallorca courtesy of a solitary Luuk de Jong effort in the first half, beating their hosts 1-0 to go within a point of LaLiga Santander’s Champions League places.

The Dutchman did well leading the Blaugrana line and could have ended the game with more than one goal to his name, but in the end, his only successful shot on target was the difference and enough to send Barcelona back to Catalonia with three points to show from their trip to the Balearic Islands.

Barcelona’s list of absentees was again long, with COVID-19, injuries, and suspensions ruling out a number of first-team regulars. Their hosts Mallorca, though, had their fair share of problems with absences as well, as Luis Garcia Plaza was keen to point out in the build-up to Sunday night’s clash in Palma.

Neither side set the game alight early on, but De Jong hit the woodwork twice in the space of a minute s the half-hour mark approached as Barcelona threatened to open the scoring. First, a desperate effort managed to find it was past the goalkeeper but came back off the post. His second attempt was a little more spectacular, sending an acrobatic overhead kick off the crossbar from 15 yards.

Mallorca looked to counterattack to hurt Barcelona, but De Jong put the visitors ahead with a header on the stroke of halftime, largely helped by Manolo Reina slipping as he came off his line to near a near-empty goal in front of the Dutch forward.

The pace rose at the beginning of the second half as the hosts pushed forward a little more, but they were never able to find a way through a Barcelona backline that crowded them out whenever they approached the edge of the area.

Mallorca did have calls for a penalty waved away by Mateu Lahoz, claiming that Ronald Araujo had handled in the area only for a previous offence of their own to be penalised with a freekick for the Catalans.

As time ticked away it looked increasingly unlikely that Mallorca would level, and the four minutes added on at the end of the 90 largely consisted of the hosts lumping long balls into Barcelona’s box with little success, though the visitors did have their hearts in their mouths on occasion as balls fell loose in their area.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen sealed the win for the visitors late on, pulling off a world-class save to deny Mallorca a 92nd-minute leveller as Jaume Costa found himself free at the back post to meet a cross with a volley at the German’s outstretched arm.

Barcelona are now a point of Atletico Madrid, with the champions sitting in the fourth and final Champions League place.


Courtesy: MARCA

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