Barcelona had one of their worst performances of the season on Sunday night as they faced Alaves in LaLiga Santander at the Estadio Mendizorroza, yet a late Frenkie de Jong goal ensured that they took all three points back to Catalonia.

There were a number of Barcelona players who did not play up to their usual standards, with Xavi Hernandez looking frustrated on the sideline for the majority of the match, but they will feel relieved to have come away with the victory.

The first half played into Alaves’ favour as they frustrated Barcelona and broke up their rhythm on a cold night in Vitoria, and it seemed as though the 19th-placed team in LaLiga Santander were going to be able to get a crucial point in their bid to avoid the drop.

In the second period, there was an improvement in Barcelona’s play but it was far from their free-flowing best. The Alaves defenders had to make a series of last-ditch clearances and tackles in order to prevent Barcelona from taking the lead, with the impressive Fernando Pacheco showcasing why he is one of the best goalkeepers in Spain.

In fact, as the game wore on, it seemed as though Alaves were the side that seemed most likely to grab a late winner. Their best chance to open the scoring came in the 78th minute, as Jason got away from Jordi Alba and sent a teasing cross into the area that Joselu got on the end of, but his header went wide of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s goal.

Xavi turned to his bench in search of inspiration, with Ferran Jutgla replacing Luuk de Jong after Nico Gonzalez had previously come on for Abde Ezzalzouli, and they eventually grabbed what proved to be the winning goal in the 87th minute.

Jordi Alba sent a ball over the top for Ferran Torres, who simply cushioned it down for Frenkie de Jong to then fire past Pacheco. A VAR check followed, with the Spaniard very close to being offside, but the goal was given.

Barcelona and Xavi will feel relieved to have secured all three points from a game in which they did not play well, but for Alaves and Jose Luis Mendilibar, it will be a bitter pill to swallow.


Courtesy: MARCA

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