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Deportivo La Coruña
March 29, 2014
• Estadi Cornellà-El Prat, Cornella de Llobregat
Referee: Carlos Clos Gomez
• Attendance: 31666
L. Messi 77'
I'm Alex Moretto and I'd like to thank you all for joining me today at the Cornella-El Prat. Good bye!
STAT ATTACK: Espanyol have now gone 454 minutes without a league goal against Barcelona.
FULL-TIME: ESPANYOL 0-1 BARCELONA. It wasn't easy by any means, but Gerardo Martino's men take advantage of a Lionel Messi penalty and jump into first place in the La Liga table for the time being, with Atletico Madrid playing later on today.
90' + 4'
Yellow Card Jordi Alba
90' + 4'
Mascherano with a blunder nearly allows Espanyol through! Pique comes across to clear and that's the last of the action! Barcelona hold on for a 1-0 victory.
90' + 3'
Barcelona refuse to give away possession in the dying seconds. Espanyol growing in frustration, but they can't win the ball back at the moment.
90' + 1'
GREAT SAVE LOPEZ! Into the first of four minutes of added time, and Alexis Sanchez is sent in on goal. Lopez instinctively comes out of his goal to cut down the angle, and some quick reactions allow him to get a hand on the chipped shot, deflecting it just wide for a corner.
Javi Lopez makes a save! Alexis is sent in by Messi and his weak effort is marked for the far bottom corner, but Lopez gets his leg out to make the save!
ALEXIS! Barcelona break into the area and Fabregas does so well to beat his man. Instead of having a shot, he crosses in for Alexis who has an easy tap-in, but Sidnei lunges in from out of nowhere to break up the move!
Barcelona don't look eager to find an insurance goal, but rather are keeping possession in midfield, taking advantage of the red card to just try and see this one out.
Yellow Card Víctor Sánchez Mata
Messi finally takes the ensuing free kick after the goalkeeping change, but can't put his attempt on target. With a field player in goal, there's no excuse for him not testing the fill in keeper here.
Red Card Kiko Casilla
Espanyol are out of substitutions as well, meaning Javi Lopez will have to fill in between the posts for the remainder of the match.
RED CARD FOR KIKO CASILLA! It was a ridiculous play by the goalkeeper who has no argument here. He comes charging out of his box towards Messi, who tries to chip the keeper. Casilla gets his hands up and makes contact with the ball a few yards outside the area. Clear red card and this one just got a whole lot harder for Espanyol.
Espanyol seem a bit shell shocked after conceding the penalty. Or perhaps Barcelona, inspired by finding a breakthrough, have new found energy they can use to see this one out.
Penalty Goal Messi
GOOOOOOOOOOAL! It's the calmest of penalties from Lionel Messi who sends Casilla the wrong way and rolls the ball into the back of the net.
Yellow Card Javier López Rodríguez
PENALTY! Neymar is sent into the box and tries to chest the ball past Javi Lopez, and has the ball hit the defender's hand, and the referee doesn't hesitate to award a penalty!
OFF THE CROSSBAR! Barcelona win a corner, and the cross is flicked on at the near post, met by the big right foot of Pique who rattles it off the underside of the bar! So nearly the opener Barcelona were looking for!
ALEX! The substitute gets on the end of a nice move from Espanyol. He cuts to his right but can only get a weak shot off as Pinto makes a simple stop.
STAT ATTACK: Espanyol have allowed just three goals in their last five games, and just 35 on the season (only the top four clubs have allowed fewer).
Barcelona work it around in the final third, but again can't find a way through, settling for a corner. The delivery is sent in towards Busquets at the near post but his header is directed right at Casilla.
Much better from Barcelona! Alves and Messi work a give-and-go, with the right-back getting in behind the defence. His fellow countryman Sidnei comes in and breaks up the attack at a crucial moment, with the ball actually bouncing off Alves and out of play for a goal kick.
The hosts enjoy a long spell of possession, before Barcelona finally win it back. Messi takes a pass and has no one in support, going to ground and winning a foul at the half-way line. It's worked forward but given right back to Espanyol on an offside. The visitors out of ideas at the moment.
Espanyol break and Fuentes has space at the top of the box, but waits just too long as Pedro dives in and pokes the ball away. Vital tackle from the winger who tracked back well to sniff out that attack.
Messi finally gets a touch of the ball as it's sent up field by Barcelona. The Argentine can't elude the tight marking of Victor Sanchez, however, as he is dispossessed seconds later.
Bad giveaway in midfield as Espanyol break on a counter. Pizzi beats Dani Alves who was looking for a foul, before crossing in for Stuani. The winger turns and tries to get a cross in but his touch takes the ball too far as it runs behind and out of play.
Barcelona really struggling at the moment. They're having a difficult time trying to work the ball forward from midfield. Espanyol generating the better chances through the opening ten minutes of the second half.
Smart play by Sergio Garcia. The Espanyol captain takes a pass but has no one up with him in support. He takes on Pique again, before shielding the ball smartly to win a free kick off a tackle from Dani Alves.
Fantastic defending from Gerard Pique, who sniffs out a promising looking Espanyol attack. Sergio Garcia, the man dispossessed by Pique, goes over and taps him on the back, a nice sign of sportsmanship between these otherwise heated rivals.
Nothing doing early on in this second half. The first few minutes have been played almost entirely in midfield. Hector Moreno appears to have injured his back and he will give way now as the first substitution of the match.
Espanyol kick-off and we're underway in the second half! Should be an exciting final 45 minutes with Barcelona desperate for the three points.
Barcelona may look to bring on Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean has goals in each of his last two matches against Espanyol, including the only tally in a 1-0 victory in this season's reverse fixture.
STAT ATTACK: Espanyol haven’t won a home match in the derby since January 13, 2007.
HALF-TIME: ESPANYOL 0-0 BARCELONA. Neither team has found a breakthrough after a fiercely contested first half at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat. Barcelona have passed the hosts open at times, but are realizing space is difficult to come by in midfield. Meanwhile, the hosts look dangerous on the counter and have had their chances to take the lead in the opening 45 minutes.
45' + 1'
Yellow Card Busquets
45' + 1'
Simao lofts it into the box from the ensuing free-kick, but it's defended well by Barcelona. That's all for the first half, as we head scoreless into the break.
One minute of added time as indicated by the linesman, seconds before Sergio Busquets becomes the first Barcelona player to be shown yellow.
The corner is played in for Colotto, but he can't connect with it cleanly! Glorious chance for the hosts to take the lead at the stroke of half-time.
A long throw is sent into the box by Espanyol, and is headed towards goal. Pinto hesitates to come out and collect, putting Pique under pressure as the Spaniard is forced to send it behind for another corner.
Espanyol push forward now and Sergio Garcia forces Barcelona into conceding a corner. The cross in is good, but Pique is there to clear. Seventy per cent possession for the visitors, but nothing to show for it at the moment.
NEYMAR! Superb build-up play from Barcelona. Xavi spreads the ball around so well before Alba sends the final ball in for Neymar. The Brazilian has the keeper at his mercy but his final effort is poor as it rolls well wide of the far post.
STAT ATTACK: There have been 69 yellow cards and three red card in the last 10 meetings between the two teams.
Yellow Card Diego Daniel Colotto
Colotto is the second man to find his name in the referee's book. The centre-back was beaten clean by Neymar along the left, so he stuck out his leg and harshly took down the Brazilian to sniff out a dangerous looking attack.
Barcelona pass it around the Espanyol box for an extended period of time, but the hosts do such a great job of preventing them from finding a way through, and it eventually results in an errant pass with the visitors giving away possession.
Espanyol look confident on the ball, and have a number of players who can pose a threat in attack. However, they are just lacking a bit of composure at the vital moment right now, which allows Barcelona to win back possession far too easily.
Casilla makes another save, this time on Pedro. Neymar keeps the ball well before laying it off for Messi. The Argentine picks out Fabregas who sends Pedro in, but it forces the winger a bit wide as he takes his shot from a poor angle.
Yellow Card Stuani
It's getting very heated now! Stuani becomes the first to find himself in the referee's book after tussling with Neymar to keep possession along the touch-line. Players from both teams come together after the foul. The referee will have to keep tempers down and avoid having this get out of hand.
Mascherano goes down now, but I'm not sure why. He's just gotten away with an elbow to the face that very easily could have resulted in a penalty for the home side. Lopez got in, but was taken down rather aggressively by Mascherano who went to ground himself when he realized the magnitude of the situation.
PIZZI! Unbelievable chance for Espanyol to grab the go ahead goal! Sergio sends a fantastic curling ball, weighted perfectly for Pizzi at the back post, but he sends his shot over the bar! He really should have done better there.
Barcelona are having success once they break into the final third, but Espanyol is making life very difficult for them in midfield. They can't find the space they need to get the ball forward, turning it over on several occasions for Espanyol to counter.
NEYMAR! It's a shocking miss from the Brazilian who had that chance put on a platter for him by Dani Alves. The right-back makes a great run forward and sends a ball across the face of goal, but Neymar sends it over the bar!
SO CLOSE FOR BARCELONA! Wonderful build-up play from Martino's men. Xavi, Fabregas, Alba and Messi all get vital touches on the ball, as it's eventually played over top for the Argentine who beats Casilla with his header, but can't keep it down as it trickles onto the top netting.
Horrible giveaway by Busquets has Simao in space along the left. The Portuguese winger tries to break into the box but Fabregas tracks the run beautifully to dispossess him and start Barcelona back on the attack.
STAT ATTACK: Barcelona have lost two of their last three away matches in the league, for the first time since May 2008.
Stuani makes a fine sliding tackle now, tracking back well to block Messi's shot at the vital moment. Barcelona are finding their way into space, but are having trouble getting by the last line of defenders at the moment.
MESSI! Dani Alves chips a ball over the defence in for Messi who only has the keeper to beat. He takes it towards the far post and tries to roll it towards goal but Casilla gets down smartly to make the save.
Barcelona just starting to find their rhythm here. Messi picks out a wonderful ball for Neymar, who cuts it back for Messi instead of having a shot. However, he's ruled to be offside as the attack fizzles out.
The first shot on target falls to Barcelona. Pedro crosses in towards Neymar at the far post, but the Brazilian's header is stopped easily by Casilla. Espanyol break the other way and Sergio Garcia has a go from distance that flies just wide of the near post.
Neither team looks settled just yet. Possession is being given away by both teams, while Barcelona haven't managed to break into the attacking third with their passing just yet.
Barcelona kick-off on what is a beautiful day in Northern Spain. The visitors are wearing their red and yellow stripes, moving right to left, with Espanyol wearing their classic blue and white.
The teams take to the pitch, and a nice gesture from the Barcelona players, sporting t-shirts that read: "Forca Double V" in support of the injured Victor Valdes.
STAT ATTACK: Espanyol have lost four straight against Barcelona, failing to score a single goal during that stretch.
ESPANYOL SUBS: German, Raul Rodriguez, Sidnei, Victor Alvarez, Alex, Abraham, Cordoba.
ESPANYOL XI (4-3-3): Kiko Casilla; H. Moreno, Javi Lopez, Fuentes, Colotto; Victor Sanchez, David Lopez, Simao; Stuani, Sergio Garcia, Pizzi.
Carles Puyol remains out (knee), while Victor Valdes and Alex Song are also absent after picking up injuries in their midweek clash against Celta. Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Xavi and Pedro are back in the XI after being rested earlier in the week.
BARCELONA SUBS: Oier, Bartra, Adriano, Iniesta, Roberto, Alexis, Tello.
BARCELONA XI (4-3-3): Pinto; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Xavi, Fabregas; Pedro, Messi, Neymar.
The teams have been announced, so let us have ourselves a look at today's starting line-ups:
Espanyol still have their sights set on playing European football next season, but with nine points separating them and sixth place Real Sociedad, they are quickly running out of time. A win over their inner-city rivals today would go a long way in helping their cause.
Barcelona trail title hopefuls Atletico Madrid by one point heading into the weekend round of fixtures, the same team they face on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final cup tie. Gerardo Martino's men will have to avoid looking ahead as they kick off derby day, with the La Liga title race as crowded as it's been in quite some time.
Good afternoon La Liga fans around the world, and welcome to today's version of El Derbi, as Barcelona and Espanyol write the next page in their historic rivalry at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat. I'm Alex Moretto and I'll be your in-game host, guiding you through the match LIVE as it happens!
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