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Barca leave it late to beat Villarreal

AFP . Madrid
29 Nov 2021 00:00:00 | Update: 29 Nov 2021 00:01:30
Barca leave it late to beat Villarreal

Barcelona notched their first away win in La Liga this season in Xavi Hernandez’s first away game in charge as late goals from Memphis Depay and Philippe Coutinho secured a 3-1 victory over Villarreal on Saturday.

Barca had gone five away matches in the league without a win but Xavi had the magic touch, with the 41-year-old overseeing his second victory out of two in La Liga, either side of a midweek goalless draw at home to Benfica in the Champions League.

The score at La Ceramica flattered Barca, who could easily have lost a frantic game in which Villarreal spurned a number of excellent chances, only to commit a dreadful mistake at the back that allowed Depay to score in the 88th minute.

“It was the game we dominated the least, but we won,” said Xavi. “On Tuesday we deserved to win and we drew, today it could have been a draw, and we got the win. It’s a tremendous victory for us.”

Barcelona cut the gap to Atletico Madrid in fourth to three points, before Atletico play at Cadiz on Sunday. They are still seven points behind leaders Real Madrid, who are at home on Sunday to third-placed Sevilla.

Barca took the lead three minutes into the second half, Alba volleying Abde’s cross back in for De Jong to tap home after Depay’s initial finish was saved.

Barca could not even keep hold of a throw-in, Villarreal regaining possession and hooking the ball towards the penalty area, where Chukwueze nipped in ahead of Mingueza and poked into the corner.

Barcelona struck after capitalising on a Villarreal mix-up at the back. Pervis Estupinan flicked Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s punt towards his own goal and Raul Albiol slipped as Depay darted through, rounded the goalkeeper and finished through the legs of Estupinan on the line.

Disheartened, Villarreal conceded a third in added time as Juan Foyth hacked down Coutinho, who planted the penalty into the bottom corner.