Barcelona score late and remain unbeaten against rivals Espanyol | national
MADRID (AP) — One more minute and Espanyol’s 13-year winless streak against Crosstown rivals Barcelona in the Spanish league would finally be over.
Sixty seconds more and his 23-game losing streak against the Spanish powerhouse would finally come to an end.
But Espanyol couldn’t stop a Luuk de Jong goal six minutes into second-half added time and had to settle for a 2-2 draw on Sunday that extended their unsuccessful streak in the Catalan derby.
The draw came as a relief for Barcelona but halted their good run after back-to-back league wins over Alavés and defending champions Atlético Madrid.
“It was a step back in the fight for the championship,” said Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández. “It’s going to be tough, but we have to keep fighting until the end.”
The result was enough to move the Catalan club ahead of Atlético and back to fourth from last place in the Champions League. They are 15 points behind league leaders Real Madrid, one game less after Madrid’s 0-0 draw at Villarreal on Saturday.
Espanyol, sitting in 13th place, have not beaten Barcelona in the league since February 2009. Their last home win against their rival was in 2007, although they did beat Barcelona in a Copa del Rey match in 2018. Espanyol are winless in their last five league games.
De Jong equalized with a header from the middle of the box after a long cross from Adama Traore as the match drew to a close.
Barcelona had taken an early lead through Pedri González scoring from close range after a Jordi Alba cross after two minutes at the RCDE Stadium. The hosts equalized in the 40th minute with a shot from outside the box by Sergi Darder.
Barcelona thought they had taken the lead when Gavi Páez found the net early in the second half, but the goal was disallowed for offside. It was Espanyol who took the lead around 10 minutes later, Raúl de Tomás scoring the goal after a fine long pass from Darder.
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique and Espanyol midfielder Nico Melamed were sent off in stoppage time after getting into an altercation.
Barcelona were without Dani Alves, who served the first of his two-game suspension for a red card in the win over Atlético. He was replaced by American Sergiño Dest. Xavi also couldn’t rely on striker Memphis Depay due to injury.
Ousmane Dembélé came off the bench in the second half for his first appearance since failing to agree a new contract with the club and rejecting starting offers in the winter transfer window.
Barcelona were trying to win three consecutive league games for the first time since April 2021, when they won six in a row.
BETIS STAY HOT
Real Betis cemented their grip on third place in the Spanish league with a 4-2 win at bottom-placed Levante, with Nabil Fekir scoring twice and Edgar González and William Carvalho adding a goal each to ensure the side Manuel Pellegrini his seventh victory in his last nine matches in all competitions.
The win left Betis seven points behind city rivals Sevilla, who beat Elche 2-0 on Friday, and 11 behind Madrid. Betis have a four-point gap with fourth-placed Atlético, who beat Getafe 4-3 on Saturday. Atlético have one game less.
Betis are one of the hottest sides in Spain under Pellegrini and are still in the Europa League and Copa del Rey. He won 2-1 at Rayo Vallecano in the first leg of the Copa semi-finals on Wednesday.
“We’ve been playing well since the start of the season,” González said. “Everyone feels important in this team, that has been key in keeping us alive in three different competitions.”
Daniel Gómez scored both goals for Levante, which had striker Roberto Soldado sent off in the 74th minute. The Valencia club have lost six of their last seven league games, including three in a row.
Valencia’s league winless streak reached six games after a 2-1 loss to relegation-threatened Alavés.
Joselu’s 76th-minute penalty gave the hosts their second victory in three matches and left the club three points from safety.
Mamadou Loum N’Diaye opened the scoring for Alavés in the 14th minute before Gonçalo Guedes equalized in the 62nd.
Valencia have lost four of their last six league games and have fallen to 12th in the 20-team standings.
Real Sociedad beat Granada 2-0 for their second win in their last 10 league games. Mikel Oyarzabal and Rafinha scored a goal in each half to move the Basque side within a point of fifth-placed Atlético.
Granada have lost four games in a row and are winless in six games in a row in the league. He is four points above the relegation zone.
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