Depor complete great escape

Deportivo will play La Liga football next season after they came back from behind to draw 2-2 in Xavi Hernandez’s Barcelona send-off on Saturday.

In similar vein to Steven Gerrard for Liverpool last week, the midfielder was allowed the opportunity to bid farewell to his fellow Catalans ahead of his summer move to Qatari club Al Sadd.

Another key inclusion was that of Thomas Vermaelen, who finally made his first official appearance for Barca in the heart of defence since arriving from Arsenal over eight months ago.

Other notable additions saw Jordi Masip handed a rare start in goal, while the likes of Adriano, Rafinha and Sergi Roberto were given opportunities to showcase their talents.

Barca had already sewn up La Liga heading into Saturday’s final round, meaning the onus was now on Depor to see out the great escape, which could have been confirmed with a shock victory.

Barca were dominant from the off and took a well-deserved lead inside five minutes as a quick-fire break resulted in Rafinha clipping an inch-perfect cross for Messi to head home in bundles of space.

They then looked to have doubled their advantage in legitimate circumstances when the Argentine was picked out with a cross-field ball and applied a lobbed finish over Fabricio, but the linesman adjugded him offside.

Barca proceeded to maintain control of the match in the opening stages of the second half, culminating in Messi’s second of the evening. Neymar may have been marginally off, but he nonetheless squared the ball in the box for the No 10 to tuck away.

However, little did anyone know in Catalonia that the great escape was about to be launched by Depor. Eibar were 3-0 up and sailing past Cordoba, but that didn’t drop the Galicians’ heads as Lucas Perez pulled one back with a vicious strike from the edge of the Barca box.

Neymar then wasted a glorious opportunity to put Depor out of sight as he chose to have mercy on Fabricio, hesitating his one-on-one with the goalkeeper, while a tearful Xavi failed to find the net before leaving the pitch to universal applause from both sets of fans.

Depor would capitalise on Barca’s momentary ceasefire from a Jeremy Mathieu handball as Diego Salomao smashed the rebound from Lucas’ free kick past Masip to keep his side up for another season along with Granada, who earned a 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid.

Barcelona 2-2 Deportivo

Messi 5, 59 (B) Lucas 67, Salomao 76 (D)

Barcelona: Masip; Adriano, Bartra (Mascherano 70), Vermaelen (Douglas 63), Mathieu; Sergi Roberto, Xavi (Iniesta 63), Rafinha; Pedro, Messi, Neymar

Deportivo: Fabricio; Laure, Lopo, Sidnei, Canella (Medunjanin 39); Alex, Borges; Lucas (Rodriguez 86), Dominguez (Riera 62), Salomao; Cavaleiro

Referee: Clos Gomez

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