NEWS
Tuesday April 17 2018
Celta hold Barca in controversial draw

Barcelona's second string were controversially held to a 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo on Tuesday, in a frantic encounter at Balaidos.

See how the match unfolded at Balaidos with our liveblog!

Ousmane Dembele's 'golazo' and a Paco Alcacer touch gave Barca the lead twice, but the Catalans were ultimately forced to settle for a point after Sergi Roberto was sent off and Aspas guided in Celta's second equaliser with his arm.

Dembele, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Philippe Coutinho were Barca's only starters at Celta, who were managed by former Blaugrana assistant Juan Carlos Unzue and were unbeaten in their last three home matches against the Liga leaders.

Ernesto Valverde’s team selection was influenced by the Copa del Rey Final against Sevilla on Saturday, and their weakened back four showed as Celta’s forwards took it in turns to test its resolve.

Unfortunately for Maxi Gomez, Brais Mendez and Iago Aspas, Marc-Andre ter Stegen – captaining the Catalans for the first time – was on hand to pull off a string of saves from the trio.

At the other end, Paulinho hit the post from a header, but Ousmane Dembele wasn’t to be denied his first goal in La Liga, the winger letting a cross bounce, before volleying it into Sergio Alvarez’s bottom-right corner.

But on the stroke of half-time, Andre Gomes had a moment to forget as he misplaced a pass near his own box and was then beaten by Aspas, whose cross was slid home by Jonny Castro.

The second half began with Jozabed Sanchez’s curler going just wide and Barca throwing on Lionel Messi and Sergi Roberto.

The pair’s introduction was promptly followed by Nelson Semedo showcasing his inner Dani Alves, playing a one-two with Dembele, before cutting back for Paulinho, whose finish was deflected in by Alcacer.

Yet just as quickly, the Blaugrana’s high line was ripped open by a through ball, forcing Sergi Roberto – who had only been on for 11 minutes - into a desperate tug of Aspas’ shirt for a straight red card.

The Galicians took heart from their man advantage, but Mendez missed another chance from close range and Nemanja Radoja could only shoot straight at Ter Stegen from a similar distance.

Nonetheless, Aspas was to be rewarded for terrorising Barca’s makeshift defence, albeit with a huge slice of luck, as he guided Emre Mor’s cross into an empty net with his arm after Ter Stegen had punched the ball on to the striker.

It could’ve got even better for Unzue’s European contenders right at the death, but Digne made amends for playing Aspas onside by blocking the striker’s one-on-one with the German off the line.

As for Barca, they remain unbeaten in La Liga after 33 games, although Atletico Madrid will cut their lead to nine points if they beat Real Sociedad on Thursday.

Celta Vigo 2-2 Barcelona

Jonny 45, Aspas 82 (C) Dembele 36, Alcacer 64, Sergi Roberto sent off 71 (B)

Celta Vigo: Sergio; Wass, Roncaglia, Sergi Gomez, Jonny; Brais (Boye 83), Jozabed (Radoja 73), Lobotka, Sisto (Emre Mor 79); Maxi, Aspas

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Yerry Mina, Vermaelen, Digne; Paulinho, Gomes (Sergi Roberto 60); Dembele (Vidal 78), Denis, Coutinho (Messi 60); Alcacer

Referee: Fernandez Borbalan

Football Italia website