Mallorca 0-1 Barcelona: Luuk de Jong gives visitors a nervy victory despite Xavi claiming they were missing 17 players… as Marc Andre ter Stegen makes a stunning late save to preserve the three points
- Luuk De Jong’s 44th minute winner was enough for Barcelona to take the win
- Marc Andre ter Stegen was forced into an important save from Jaume Costa
- Xavi said Barcelona had 17 players players out of action for the LaLiga game
- The Catalan giants move one point closer to the Champions League places
Barcelona moved to just a point of the Champions League places despite struggling to raise a team because of Covid positives, injuries and suspensions.
Luuk de Jong and Marc Andre ter Stegen were most responsible for the win. The former has been vilified so far this season having scored just one goal since he arrived on loan from Sevilla in the summer.
He is still likely to be moved on this month but he will have temporarily silenced his critics with a stunning first half that included a goal and two efforts on to the frame of the goal.
Luuk de Jong scored Barcelona’s only goal to give them an edgy victory over Mallorca
Marc Andre ter Stegen preserved the victory with a stunning late stop from Jaume Costa
Xavi’s side moved one point off the Champions League places with their victory
Mallorca: Reina; Maffeo, Russo, Valjent, Costa; Baba (Inigo 61), Battaglia (Prats 84); Lee (Exposito 71), Rodriguez (Nino 61), Sanchez (Mboula 70); Angel
Bookings: Costa, Prats, Maffeo, Rodriguez, Valjent
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Mingueza (Lenglet 76), Pique, Garcia, Araujo; Gonzalez (Sanz 71), F. de Jong, Puig; Akhomach (Pedrola 80), L. de Jong, Jutgla
Goal: L. de Jong 44
Bookings: Jutgla, Lenglet
Ter Stegen has also had his critics. Once seen as a keeper on a par with Jan Oblak and Thibaut Courtois in Spain his performances this season has seen his credit rating tumble but his block to stop Jaume Costa scoring late on was worthy of all three points.
‘It’s a victory for the group; for the family that we are,’ said Barcelona coach Xavi. ‘These points are golden. We showed a lot of personality and we keep moving in the right direction.
‘It’s a historic win because we had 17 players out injured. The game should have been called off but I’m very proud of the team and happy for Marc; he needed that. He is a great keeper and he has saved us.’
Barcelona had the first real chance of the game when Luuk de Jong prodded a shot on to the foot of the post with Manolo Reina looking beaten. He bettered that effort shortly after with an acrobatic overhead kick that came crashing off the crossbar.
He got his goal just before the break when Riqui Puig spread the ball wide to Oscar Minugeza and the makeshift right back sent over a deep cross. De Jong rose to head past Reina who had made things easier for him coming for the cross, hesitating and then slipping as he tried to backpedal.
Luuk de Jong hit the crossbar with an acrobatic bicycle kick as Barcelona looked to open the score
De Jong was able to net just before half-time when his header found the back of the net
There was no news of Mallorca’s attack. With Take Kubo missing from the line-up a couple of off-target free-kicks from Kangin Lee and a shot from distance from Baba was the best they could muster.
In the second half Barcelona kept trying to take the fight to the home side but gradually they began to run out of legs. Nico and Mingueza both had to go off with cramp leading to two more youngsters getting their debuts.
The 20-year-old midfielder Alvaro Sanz came on and 18-year-old winger Estanislav Pedrola was also sent on. It was a long ball over his back that sent Jaume Costa charging into space and when the full-back connected with a deep cross to the back post it looked for all the world like the equalizer but Ter Stegen blocked brilliantly.
He was immediately hugged by Gerard Pique and mobbed by the rest of his team-mates. They knew the stop had earned them all three points. ‘Golden points,’ said Xavi in his post-match interview.
Barça were without Sergino Dest, Philippe Coutinho, Abde, Ousmane Dembele, Jordi Alba and Alexander Balde who had all tested positive for Covid. That added to the usual injuries and suspensions to Gavi and Sergio Busquets left Xavi with, what was in theory, his weakest starting XI’s yet, but they managed to pick up all three points and suddenly Champions League football for next season is back within their grasp.
It was a big victory for Barcelona who were missing players due to injuries, Covid and suspensions
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