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Deportivo La Coruña
May 11, 2014
• Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero, Elche
Referee: Fernando Teixeira Vitienes
• Attendance: 33069
AND THEN THERE WERE TWO! Barca's failure to win means La Liga effectively has a final at the Camp Nou next weekend. Barcelona v Atletico Madrid, and it's winner takes all. Good night!
FULL-TIME at the Vicente Calderon. 1-1 between Atletico and Malaga. Real Madrid are OUT of the title race, going down to Celta Vigo. Second successive week that none of the top three have won.
FT: ELC 0-0 BAR - Manu Herrera the hero, as Barcelona trip up once again. They are playing at the Vicente Calderon still. One more goal for Atletico, would see them take the title.
90' + 3'
FULL-TIME: Elche 0-0 Barcelona
90' + 2'
MESSI!! My word, he curls it around the wall, but Herrera blocks it away. Busquets and Bartra in the middle, but Messi goes for goal. The Barca players in the stands - Cuenca and the rest, are wiping their faces. They are frustrated!
90' + 1'
Carlos Sanchez has conceded a free-kick right at the death for Barcelona. THREE MINUTES added on at the end of the second half here. Over in Madrid, if one goal is scored by Atletico, the result wouldn't matter. Xavi and Messi over this free-kick.
Xavi with the corner, away by Cisma, before Elche get the ball away through Carlos Sanchez, who has been a rock in defence for the hosts this evening. A minute to go until full-time here.....
SUBSTITUTION - Elche: Third change for the hosts, as Coro is replaced by Fidel Chaves.
And it's not a good delivery. Punched away by Herrera before Ruben Perez gets the ball away. Barcelona susceptible to the counter, but Bartra cleans up at the back.
And still the chances keep on coming for Tata Martino's side. Tello has a shot blocked, but the winger wins a free-kick after a late challenge. 20 metres out, and just outside the penalty box, at a slightly acute angle. This is it.
If it stays like this in Elche, then Atletico Madrid can seal the La Liga title TONIGHT with another goal. It is 1-1 at Vicente Calderon, and that match is on a knife edge, also.
ADRIANO!!!! Excellent effort, but it is NARROWLY WIDE! Millimeters in that. A fine strike by the Brazilian winger, who goes for the curling effort. Not far away at all that. We are edging towards full-time here.
Messi and Iniesta combine, but the latter is not on the same wavelength as the Argentine star. Scuffed away by Pelegrin, but only into the path of Dani Alves, who resurrects the move.
Alves' crossing has not been upto standard in this second half, as he picks up a pass from Xavi. Towards the centre, but it is too close for Damian Suarez, who heads away the danger. Elche holding on!
SUBSTITUTION - Barcelona: Cesc Fabregas is out, Xavi is in.
RODRIGUES!!! My word, how big will that chance be in the race for the title?! Barcelona are caught at the back, and substitute Boakye plays a fine through ball for the winger, who gets in front of the defender, and fires over the bar! What a miss!
Messi with the corner, headed away by Carlos Sanchez. The loose ball is taken forward by Dani Alves, who not for the first time in this second half, hits a cross with too much power.
SUBSTITUTION - Elche: Carles Gil is replaced by Richmond Boakye.
Messi is clipped by Carlos Sanchez, but Fabregas takes the loose ball and fires towards goal. Takes a wicked deflection and out for a corner. Barcelona really, have no answers here.
GOALFLASH: Atletico 1-1 Malaga - Toby Alderweireld has equalised for Diego Simeone's men, as the Vicente Calderon erupts. Here at Martinez Valero, we are still goalless. Barcelona are now three points behind Atletico as it stands.
SUBSTITUTION - Elche: Javi Marquez is off, replaced by Alberto Rivera.
Again it's Barcelona, who maintain the unrelenting pressure. Tello drills in the cross from the flank, towards Iniesta who makes contact, but is off-balance. The ball is eventually cleared.
Fabregas works Barcelona into a 4 v 3 situation, and he has options right left and centre. But he takes an extra touch, and is upended by Ruben Perez who executes a fine sliding tackle.
Barcelona are camped out on the Elche half, as Messi attempts to unlock the hosts' defence. Towards the middle from Alves, but Herrera reads the game well and picks up the ball.
AS IT STANDS - La Liga: Elche 0-0 Barcelona, Atletico 0-1 Malaga, Celta Vigo 2-0 Real Madrid. TABLE - 1.) Atletico 88 2.) Barcelona 86 3.) Madrid 84. Barcelona must take advantage!
Fabregas attempts flamboyant footwork, but the ball is cleared by Cisma. Only towards Dani Alves,who immediately delivers the ball back into the penalty box. Over-hit, too much power, and the ball is behind for an Elche throw-in. Not long left.
SUBSTITUTION - Barcelona: Pedro is off, Cristian Tello is on. Tata Martino's first roll of the dice.
PEDRO!! Devastating cross, but there's no one at the end of that. Fine work by the Spain international, who beats his marker, and centres the ball right into the danger zone. No takers, and the ball is behind for a goal-kick.
CORO!! What a chance for Elche! The attacker races down the left wing, beating Dani Alves and attempts to centre for Rodrigues, who arrives in the middle, but a late intervention gets the ball away. And Barcelona break!
PINTO! And Barcelona almost go behind! Woeful defending from the Blaugrana, and their goalkeeper races out and dribbles the ball away. Crazy stuff from Pinto, but at least it's worked out!
Yellow Card Rubén Pérez
GOALFLASH: Celta Vigo 2-0 Real Madrid; Atletico 0-1 Malaga - the stars have aligned for BARCELONA! Can they take advantage of these favourable results? Charles has doubled Celta's advantage. Malaga have taken the lead at Vicente Calderon.
PEDRO! Barcelona are spurning chance after chance. The Catalans are turning on the style, but the header from Adriano's cross is deflected by a defender, and Elche continue to repel their visitors.
Yellow Card Pedro
YELLOW CARD - Pedro: The Barcelona player is booked for unsportsmanlike conduct, as he attempts to block Herrera's goal-kick. Interesting decision.
And immediately, Barcelona counter, in search of their first goal. Iniesta draws in his marker, then picking out Pedro in space. The winger lifts a delicate pass into the box for Messi, but Herrera races out and picks up the loose ball.
GIL RODRIGUES! Elche are getting closer. The winger, who scored a fine goal last week for los Franjiverdes, cuts in on his left - has a look - and strikes towards goal. Narrowly wide of Pinto's right post.
Fabregas forward, dribbling past a couple of players, aiming to link up with Messi. But the duo have got their bearings wrong, as Carlos Sanchez intercepts and clears the ball away from danger.
MESSI! Wide. Pedro drives forward, and he unleashes a fine cross-field pass for Adriano, who hits the cross first time. Sanchez slips in the box, but Messi arrives in time to execute the header, but off target.
Bartra with a poor clearance, allowing Elche to advance forward. Towards Coro in the middle, who feeds Carlos Gil. The striker has an effort from distance, but it is not troubling Jose Pinto.
Yellow Card Javier Mascherano
YELLOW CARD - Javier Mascherano. The Argentine is booked for a rash challenge on Coro, as he attempted to make amends for a defensive slip. Second Barca man in the book.
Sanchez is unhappy with the referee. The Chilean winger is hauled off the ball by defender Sergio Pelegrin. The referee hasn't seen the offence, and Pelegrin has already been booked. Has to stay careful, the Elche defender.
Messi skips past two defenders, and picks out Sanchez. They switch the play towards Adriano who tussles with Carlos Sanchez, the Elche midfielder. The Colombian has done enough to win his side a goal-kick.
A big half in store for Barcelona, whose profligacy may come back to haunt them. Should Atletico Madrid beat Malaga (currently - 0-0), and Barcelona fail to win, then the gap will be an unassailable one. They've been unable to unlock Elche at the moment.
Yellow Card Alexis Sánchez
YELLOW CARD - Alexis Sanchez: Tata Martino is exasperated on the touchline. But the Chilean is booked for a handball here.
HERRERA! SUPERB SAVE! The Elche defence is all over the place as Messi latches onto a long ball forward. Cuts in, by which point Lomban has tracked back. Messi strikes, but Herrera rushes out to block the ball away. The goalkeeper has been immense.
UNDERWAY IN ELCHE! Barcelona get us going, attacking from right to left. A big 45 minutes in store for the Blaugrana. They must take one of the chances that come their way.
The sides are out for the second half here at Martinez Valero.
HT: ELC 0-0 FCB - half-time in Valencia. A good first half, full of chances. Barcelona typically have dominated, but Andres Iniesta came closest with a stunning volley. But at the interval, it remains goalless.
HALF-TIME: Elche CF 0-0 FC Barcelona
PEDRO! Over the bar. Barcelona dysfunctional in the final third, and it shows. Pedro utilises space, sets himself up for a shot, but curls it over Herrera's bar. Fabregas had arrived to support. Messi cuts a frustrated figure.
There is a round of cheers inside the stadium as news filters of the latest scoreline from Balaidos. Celta Vigo 1-0 Real Madrid, a result that would effectively put the Champions League finalists out of the title race.
Approaching half-time in a keenly contested La Liga clash at Martinez Valero. Barcelona have enjoyed the lion's share of possession and attacking chances in this first half, but the scoreline remains goalless.
Yellow Card Domingo Cisma
Adriano links well with Iniesta, but the latter is forced to chase an overhit pass. Back to Adriano, but the referee stops play as Carlos Sanchez hits his team-mate with a high foot. Barcelona receive the ball, and they start from the back.
Herrera's got his work cut out this evening, but the Elche goalkeeper is doing superbly well at the minute by repelling Barcelona. Another delivery into the middle, this time from the left, and he punches away the loose ball.
MESSI! Fine free-kick, but an even better save by Manu Herrera, who shows great agility in getting across goal and palming that behind for a corner. Several Barca players lurking too.
Handball by Cisma, as he blocks a delivery into the box by Dani Alves. Barcelona have a good free-kick opportunity here. Fabregas, Pedro as options in the box.
Free-kick to Elche, taken in by Suarez. Good delivery, flicked on by Lomban but Pinto makes an assured catch. Elche not taking their set-piece opportunities in this first half. They've had a few.
PEDRO! Fine header, but narrowly wide. Only one Barca player in the Elche box, as Sanchez does well in creating a good delivery. Pedro diverts his header well, narrowly going past the post.
Free-kick delivered in deep, touched on by Carlos Sanchez, before the referee awards a free-kick to Barcelona after Mascherano is fouled by Coro.
Free-kick to Elche. All getting a bit physical here. Alves with a late challenge on the left-back Cisma, and the hosts have a free-kick. Taking their time on this one, all players going forward bar one.
MESSI! Nice bit of skill from Messi who is operating just outside the penalty box. Alves finds Sanchez, who in turn picks out the Argentine. Messi tees up an effort. It has Herrera beaten, but not the defender, who heads it away for a corner.
YELLOW CARD - Sergio Pelegrin. Fran Teixeira hands out his first caution of the game to the defender.
Yellow Card Pelegrín
Barcelona maintaining their level of pressure in the final third. They have a corner, taken by Messi this time. Headed on by Rodrigues, and Elche get it away. Approaching the half-hour at Martinez Valero.
SANCHEZ! Barca spurn two good chances in two minutes. From Cesc Fabregas' in-swinging corner, Sanchez rises highest unopposed, and sees his header saved by Herrera on the line.
MESSI!! Wonderful save from Herrera, who parries his effort away for a corner. Messi picks it up from Sanchez and runs at four defenders, who all go off him. Fires at Herrera, who bats it away. Martino is not happy on the touchline.
RODRIGUES! Woeful strike. Lovely move from Elche. Damian Suarez gets onto a fine through ball from the midfield on the overlap. Mascherano lets him pass. Cross into the centre, but the Cape Verde striker fires way over the bar.
Elche struggling to keep Barcelona at arm's length, but the defence remains impenetrable for now. Los Franjiverdes have conceded just two goals at home in La Liga this calendar year. If the first 22 minutes are anything to go by, that tally is set to increase.
SANCHEZ! The ball is in the net, but he is offside. In fact, he is level - with D Suarez keeping him onside by a narrow margin. Alexis latches onto the overhead through ball, cuts in and fires under Herrera. Pity it was chalked off!
And still Barcelona keep up the pressure with Alves picking out Pedro arriving on the far side, the header helped on by Sanchez. Pedro drills in an effort, blocked by Suarez initially, before the full-back buys a goal-kick from the attacking midfielder.
FABREGAS! Can't get his shot away. Barcelona inches from taking the lead, as Alves works in a good pass in the six yard box. Towards Fabregas, whose effort is denied by the defender.
Teasing pass for Coro to chase, as he tussles with Marc Bartra to keep the ball in play. Does well to beat the defender, though by the time he does, the ball sails over the line and for a goal-kick.
Martino looks on with an exasperated expression. Coro holds off Iniesta to fashion an opening for Elche, but the move eventually breaks down. Barcelona meanwhile, counter at break-neck speed.
It is Andres Iniesta's 30th birthday today. The Spain international with a fine chance seconds ago. All Barcelona at the moment, with Sanchez particularly threatening at the minute.
INIESTA!! What a chance from the midfielder! Lovely cross from Pedro who keeps the ball in play, and lifts it towards Iniesta who is lurking on the edge of the area. A stunning volley follows, and Herrera pulls off a world-class save to tip that over.
Possession squandered by Elche, and Barcelona have the ball in the opposition half. Drifted in from Fabregas, towards Alexis Sanchez who has gotten in behind the two centre-backs with a perfectly timed run. Sergio Pelegrin clears it behind for a corner.
Elche win a first corner of the game, as Javi Marquez wins the set-piece off of a deflection from Dani Alves. Can the hosts work out a good chance? No is the answer, but they have a second chance after Bartra puts it behind.
Slight lull in tempo now as Barcelona consolidate possession in the midfield. Alexis Sanchez turns the defender inside out, with Fabregas now coming forward to support. Elche have not cleared the ball away, but eventually do so with a last minute intervention.
Ruben Perez loses out in the midfield, and Barca break. Bartra moves forward, linking with Messi in a one-two. The Argentine is in an offside position, as the move is scuppered by the assistant referee's flag.
Already end-to-end here at Martinez Valero, as Alexis Sanchez, scorer of a hat-trick in the reverse fixture, holds off two defenders to keep the ball in play. Turns the ball onto his right, but his drilled cross is claimed by Herrera.
Los Franjiverdes are momentarily down to ten men, with Toro requiring a bit of treatment. The free-kick is taken, punched away by the much-maligned Pinto, and eventually cleared from danger.
Martino's men have raced out of the blocks here, as Busquets locates Pedro on the left, who has positioned himself ahead of Suarez. Towards the centre, but Herrera claims the loose ball.
Strong start from the Catalans, who attack down the left wing. Cross delivered in from Pedro, but his cross is well claimed by Manu Herrera. Barcelona maintaining pressure.
UNDERWAY IN ELCHE! The hosts get us going, attacking from right to left in this first half. Can they dent Barcelona's title hopes? We soon shall see.
TEAM NEWS: Elche are without suspended duo Alberto Botia and Tono. Barcelona meanwile, are without Victor Valdes (knee), Carles Puyol (knee), Gerard Pique (groin), Jordi Alba (hamstring) and Neymar (foot).
Fran Escriba's side are unbeaten in their last nine home league matches, but Elche have scored just 29 goals this season in the league. Barcelona meanwhile have the task of attempting to breach a defence which has conceded just two league goals at home in 2014.
ELCHE: Manu H., Damián, Lombán, Pelegrín, D. Cisma, R. Pérez, C. Sánchez, J. Márquez, Rodrigues, Carles Gil, Coro
FC BARCELONA: Pinto, Dani Alves, Mascherano, Bartra, Adriano, Sergio, Cesc, Iniesta, Alexis, Messi, Pedro
CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS:
There are eight games kicking off at 19:00 CET, including Barcelona's challengers Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid. Getafe and Almeria also embark on a relegation six pointer, a match which could go someway in deciding Elche's fate.
Alexis Sanchez hit a hat-trick when the two sides met in the reverse fixture at Camp Nou en route to a 4-0 triumph. A similar result tonight will tee up a monumental clash next week against the Champions League finalists.
As for Elche, they remain in the relegation dogfight. A win, or maybe even a draw depending on results elsewhere will secure their safety for the next season. Defeat, will surely drag them further into the mire.
But for Tata Martino's men, their destiny is back in their own hands. Win the final two games, and they regain their title. Trouble is, we could be heading for a winner takes all clash at the Camp Nou next weekend.
Barcelona were handed a pass back into the La Liga title race in midweek after Real Madrid stuttered again to a 1-1 draw with Real Valladolid in the rescheduled game in midweek. None of the top three managed to win in the past week.
Good afternoon and welcome to LIVE! coverage of the clash between Elche and FC Barcelona in the penultimate round of matches in La Liga.
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