February 27, 2024
Barcelona stumbled in the Spanish title race with a 1-1 draw against rivals Espanyol in a bad-tempered Catalan derby on Saturday, levelling Real Madrid at the top of La Liga. Xavi’s side threw away the two-point advantage they had earned before the World Cup break, with Joselu’s penalty pegging Barcelona back after Marcos Alonso’s opener.

Barca drop points in heated Catalan derby

Barcelona stumbled in the Spanish title race with a 1-1 draw against rivals Espanyol in a bad-tempered Catalan derby on Saturday, levelling Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.

Xavi’s side threw away the two-point advantage they had earned before the World Cup break, with Joselu’s penalty pegging Barcelona back after Marcos Alonso’s opener.

Both teams finished with 10 men as Jordi Alba and Vinicius Souza were sent off, with referee Mateu Lahoz allowing the game to spiral out of control at Camp Nou.

“The draw is our fault, we can talk about the referee and other things but they are our mistakes,” said Xavi.

“I think Mateu is a referee who controls games but today it got away from him in my opinion, he let the game get totally out of control.”

“(But) I don’t blame him for anything, the fault is ours. We lowered our intensity.”

The teams were at loggerheads before a ball was kicked because Barcelona started Robert Lewandowski, who had been banned before a late court ruling allowed him to play.

The forward, due to miss three league matches, was only allowed to feature thanks to a controversial decision announced on Friday, suspending his punishment.

It greatly angered Espanyol, whose president and directors boycotted the match, while Barca coach Xavi admitted his team had prepared all week expecting to be without the division’s top goalscorer.

The Spanish football federation said in a statement on Saturday they could not override the court’s decision.

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