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Deportivo La Coruña
April 27, 2014
• Camp El Madrigal, Villarreal
Referee: David Fernandez Borbalan
• Attendance: 22839
Gabriel Paulista 65' (own goal)
M. Musacchio 78' (own goal)
L. Messi 83'
That's all that we have time for in La Liga's late kick-off, as Barcelona salvage their slim title hopes with a 3-2 comeback against Villarreal. Two resurgences in their last two games suggest that the hosts can had a reasonable end to the season. I've been Simon Harrison and I hope to see you again next time.
Martino's men showed plenty of heart, but lacked quality once again, with their second half performance somehow allowing themselves back into the title race. Slightly undeserved but a good result for Barca on a poignant evening, with Messi's celebration of pointing to the heavens saying it all.
FULL TIME! What a bizarre game at El Madrigal, with Barcelona coming from two goals down to beat Villarreal 3-2, courtesy of two own goals and a Lionel Messi winner. The hosts were two to the good at the break, through goals from Cani and Trigueros, but Marcelino's men threw it all away, with Gabriel and Musacchio getting on the wrong side of the scoresheet.
90' + 3'
The home fans urge their side forward for one last attack, but Barca get enough players behind the ball to slow down their counter attack. That should be enough to see out the win for the away side.
90' + 1'
Yellow Card Daniel Alves
90' + 1'
We're into the first of three minutes of second half stoppage time.
Yellow Card Cani
Sergi Roberto is brought on to replace Pedro, with the winger having a fairly quiet evening. The home fans whistle as the Spain international takes his time to leave the field, with Cani picking up a yellow card for complaining that the Barcelona man is time-wasting.
Yellow Card Trigueros
Important headed clearance by Mario! Pedro is found by Messi on the far side, before the Spaniard looks to float a ball into the centre of the six-yard box. It avoids Messi, being slightly too high for the diminutive Argentine, before Villarreal's right-back is once again on hand to clear his lines.
Only a few minutes remain, with the home crowd not pleased with what they've seen in the second half. Their side have gifted Barca a way back into the game through two calamitous own goals, before an excellent Messi finish completed the turnaround.
Yellow Card Busquets
It won't be a penalty! The referee appeared to point for a spot-kick, but the decision has been correctly changed, pulled back to a free-kick on the edge of the area! The delivery is whipped in, but Barca eventually clear through yet another punch from Pinto!
PENALTY! There's drama at El Madrigal, as the referee has pointed for a spot-kick or possibly a free-kick, due to the advice of his assistant. It's very unclear, with players surroundings the officials.
Assist Cesc Fàbregas
GOOOOOOAL! MESSI SCORES TO MAKE IT 3-2! Fabregas heads the ball back into the path of the Argentine, after a great ball from Busquets, who controls smartly and rifles home from eight yards out! He points to the heavens in celebration!
Giovani dos Santos
MESSI! Good save from the Villarreal goalkeeper! Yet another long-range free-kick attempt from the Argentine, but Asenjo is alert to the danger, rising well to palm a powerful effort out from under his own crossbar! Top stop!
From being two goals ahead, Villarreal have gifted Barca a way back into this match via two own goals! With ten minutes left on the clock, Martino's men are pushing for a third second-half conversion, despite not doing a great deal offensively themselves.
Own Goal Mateo Musacchio
OWN GOAL! WHAT A TERRIBLE MISTAKE! Dani Alves whips in yet another cross and Musacchio fires a bullet header past his own goalkeeper under no pressure! Bizarre!
Dani Alves has a banana thrown at him from the crowd, but opts to pick up the fruit and take a bite out of it. That's clearly been launched onto the pitch with racist intentions, not at all what we want to see in football whatsoever.
FABREGAS! Alves whips in the corner delivery, with the former Arsenal midfielder able to contribute a near post flick! Nobody is on hand to turn the loose ball home at the far post.
The noise is rising up a notch inside the stadium, as the home supporters urge their players towards the finish line. Having to make two enforced first half substitutes might just take its toll on the home side in these late stages of the game, with Martino able to inject more fresh legs.
Dani Alves whips in yet another cross from deep on the right hand side, with Asenjo easily able to come off his line and claim it. Barca have been a little too predictable, with too many of their forays forward ending in an aimless cross.
Less than 20 minutes remain, with momentum slowly edging back into Barca's favour. Jokic does well to rob Messi of possession on the edge of the box, before releasing the ball to Mario at right-back, who clears down the line.
Barcelona continue to retain possession around the hosts' penalty area, but Marcelino's men are remaining well-drilled and hard to play through. The own goal has instilled some more belief into Martino's men, but two goals still look beyond their capabilities at the moment.
Suddenly the game doesn't look beyond Barcelona, but Villarreal continue to be dangerous on the break which the away side need to be wary of. Plenty of time remains for Barca to find an equaliser, but nothing other than three points is enough for the Blaugrana to keep their La Liga season alive.
Own Goal Gabriel Paulista
GOOOOOAL! It's an own goal from Gabriel and Barcelona have a way back into the game! Dani Alves cuts back a teasing cross, with Gabriel inadvertently flicking the ball over Asenjo and into his own net. Sheer luck for Martino's men!
Less than half an hour remains, with Villarreal looking as likely to grab a third, as Barca are of getting a consolation goal. The yellow wall stands firm, with Gabriel and Jokic making good blocks to deny the ever-more-isolated figure of Messi.
Fabregas replaces Xavi, with Tello thrown into the fray in place of Alexis. The Chilean winger has been suffering from a couple of earlier knocks, but taking off Xavi appears to be a totally tactical decision from Martino.
INIESTA! The Spain international fires a curling effort towards the inside of the far post, but it whistles wide of the target! Asenjo perhaps had his angles covered, but that's the closest Barca have come in the second half.
It looks like Fabregas and Tello are the men that Barca are turning to, in order to change the face of this game. Villarreal are looking confident with a buoyant home atmosphere in El Madrigal. The visitors seemingly can't wait for this season to end.
Martino is off his bench and on the edge of his technical area, but it's a little bit late for Barcelona now, you'd feel. Their comeback against Athletic Bilbao resulted from a real change of mentality at half-time, but there's no such transformation tonight. Substitutes ready themselves.
Barcelona sit seven points behind Atletico in first place, with Martino's men needing a win tonight to keep their title hopes alive. Messi tries his luck from a long-range free-kick once again, with the ball taking a wicked deflection off Cani. Asenjo re-adjusts well to make the save!
Yellow Card Mario Gaspar
Assist J. Aquino
GOOOOOOOOAL! WHAT A HEADER FROM TRIGUEROS! The midfielder arrives at the edge of the penalty area at just the right time, being picked out by an excellent cut-back by Martio, guiding an 18-yard header into the bottom left corner!
MESSI! Good effort from a 25-yard free-kick, forcing Asenjo to get across well to make the save, though the Villarreal man perhaps made it look a little better than it truly was!
Messi has Aquino snapping at his heels, with the substitute eventually bringing down the Argentina international. Alexis is still limping following his earlier challenge with the Villarreal goalkeeper, in combination with another knock he picked up moments later.
MESSI! Great run from the Argentine! He glides across the El Madrigal turf, before trying to curl an effort into the bottom left corner from 25 yards out. Asenjo is more than equal to the shot, palming it clear of the box.
Yellow Card Alexis Sánchez
Messi breaks upfield on his own, but is met by a yellow wall of shirts. Alexis is fed in behind the hosts' defensive line, but Asenjo is quick off his line to ensure that the Chilean forward isn't able to settle on the ball. The former Udinese man lashes out at the keeper through frustration, earning a yellow card.
The away side start the second half fairly well, pressing upfield and forcing Villarreal back from the off. Except for failing to deal with the hosts' incisive counter-attacks, Barca haven't put in too bad of a performance so far.
We are back underway at El Madrigal! The first half ended in nightmarish fashion for Barca, with Cani poking home a stoppage time opener, but Martino's men have got plenty of quality to hurt Villarreal before the 90 minutes are up.
Be sure to rejoin us in ten minutes time for all of the second half action, as Barcelona look to do what they managed against Bilbao last time out - successfully overturn a one goal deficit.
The best chances of the game have fallen to Marcelino's men, with Aquino, Dos Santos and Cani having brilliant opportunities. Two players have left the field through injury for Villarreal, with Pina and Perbet the men replaced. Fatigue may come into play later in the game, with Barca still in with more than a chance of turning this around.
HALF TIME! The referee calls time on an enthralling opening 45 minutes, which sees Barcelona head to their dressing room a goal behind! Villarreal have the 1-0 lead, due to a goal on the break from Cani. Martino's men haven't performed badly, but continue to lack any kind of flair or penetration going forward.
45' + 1'
Assist Jonathan Pereira
45' + 1'
GOOOOOOAL! CANI GIVES THE HOSTS THE LEAD! Villarreal's leader holds his nerve to fire beyond Pinto and into the bottom right corner! It's a great finish, with Bartra's goal-line clearance seeming a long time ago now! Pereira played a wonderful pass into Cani, who capped the counter brilliantly.
AQUINO! Bartra with a goal-saving block! The net was at the mercy of the Mexican substitute, with Pinto committed at the near post, but Bartra hoofs the halfhearted effort clear! Yet another important intervention from the 23-year-old.
Messi dribbles around the edge of the hosts' penalty area, but is met by a wall of yellow shirts. The Argentine tries to combat the compact defence by scooping the ball over to the onrushing Iniesta, but Gabriel is able to head clear. Villarreal are still holding firm!
XAVI! Bruno makes the block! That's the closest that Barcelona have come, with Alexis working his way to the byeline brilliantly, pulling back a cross which eventually fell to the feet of Xavi. The experienced Spain international saw his effort come back off the hosts' defensive midfielder and clear.
Jonathan Pereira battles with Bartra, with the referee opting to give the free-kick Barca's way, angering the El Madrigal crowd. With just over five minutes until the break, Villarreal will be pleased with how they've silenced the visitors' star-studded strikeforce, however.
Iniesta feeds Pedro down the left, but the Spaniard's cross is blocked and turned behind for yet another corner. Barcelona just can't get any joy from this resilient Villarreal defence, with frustration becoming visible on a few players' faces.
More injury woe for the home side, as Pina is replaced by Aquino, with the Mexican winger not a direct change for the defensive midfielder. This first half hasn't been ideal for Marcelino's European ambitions, but the change could aid Villarreal's counter-attacking endeavours.
Both sides are matching each other well, with this game appearing to need a moment of brilliance to fire it into action. Villarreal look dangerous while on the break, but Barca's play is a little too sluggish and predictable.
Barcelona are being patient, switching the ball from flank to flank, but ultimately Martino's men are eventually forced to throw a cross into the box. Messi hasn't featured too heavily, with the visitors' system not geared towards giving him as much of the ball as possible.
Pinto isn't afraid to come out and punch a corner delivery away once again, taking the pressure off his own defenders. Villarreal are enjoying something of a resurgence after spending the opening 20 minutes deep in their own half.
DOS SANTOS! Cani breaks down the left hand side, before firing in a beautiful cross, which zips across the length of the six-yard box! The Mexico international can't quite stretch enough to turn the delivery home!
Important headed clearance from Gabriel! The Brazilian central defender is on hand yet again to half-clear with his head, before Dani Alves picks up the rebound. The Barca right-back whips in a quick cross, picking out Pedro at the far post, but the Spanish winger is caught offside.
Good punch from Pinto! Cani plays a short one-two from a Villarreal corner, before dipping in an excellent back post cross. The Barca keeper makes his decision early to come out and command his area, doing so firmly.
Half chance for the home side! Pereira makes a great run down the right, receiving the ball pass from Cani, but can only cannon a shot into his own player! Dos Santos inadvertently prevents his own teammate's attempt from testing Pinto!
The away side are enjoying the lion's share of the ball, with Villarreal happy to hold their shape and force Barca to look from side to side. Iniesta shoots from 25 yards, but the Spain international's low drive thuds into the advertising hoardings. They've been the better of the two sides, but haven't found much in the way of penetration.
Barcelona need three points tonight, but Marcelino's men are currently standing firm, with Messi mobbed by yellow shirts whenever he receives the ball in advanced areas. Musacchio makes a great block to deny Pedro, with the Spaniard's effort cannoning into the head of the Argentine defender.
MESSI! MARIO! Barcelona's talismanic forward is denied by an extended leg from Asenjo, before Villarreal break upfield. The hosts' right-back powers forward, trying his luck from 25 yards. His effort zips off the turf and narrowly wide of the far post with Pinto scrambling.
The opening quarter of an hour has passed, but neither goalkeeper has been testing too much. Alexis receives a pass with his back to goal, flicking off a pass to Messi, but Jokic outmuscles the Argentine and shields the ball back to Asenjo.
Perbet is withdrawn for Jonathan Pereira, despite it originally looking as though the Frenchman would return to the field straight away. The substitute is more than capable of breaking quickly, but commits a needless free-kick on the edge of the box with his first contribution. It is taken short to Alves, but the Brazilian balloons a 25-yard effort high and wide of the target.
Perbet is quickly looking to get back onto the field after being given a once-over on the sideline, but Marcelino gets a couple of substitutes warming up just in case. Barca have had a couple of half chances thus far, but Dani Alves has been the main outlet for the away side.
Alexis whips a brilliant near post cross into the penalty area, but Gabriel is on hand to put it behind for a corner. Perbet goes down and waits for treatment after looking to turn his ankle slightly.
Pina is fed towards the byeline by Cani, but Bartra stands up well to the defensive midfielder, before more teammates mob the loose ball to ensure it stays in the visitors' possession. The young centre-half has been a bright point in a troubling couple of months for Barca.
XAVI! The experienced midfielder tries his luck from a 30-yard free-kick scenario, it dips over the wall but comfortably into the grasp of Asenjo. The goalkeeper drops the shot briefly, before reclaiming it quickly.
Smart move from the hosts! Cani is found on the left hand side, stabbing the ball into the focal point of Perbet, before the Frenchman tries to put Trigueros in between Mascherano and Adriano. The pass is too heavy, rolling through for Pinto.
Good defensive intervention from Musacchio! Dani Alves whips in a devilish back post cross, but the Argentine is on hand to deny his compatriot Messi, hooking the delivery out of play for a throw-in on the far side.
The opening five minutes seem to be setting the tone for the match, with Barcelona keeping the ball with attacking intent, while Villarreal look to break extremely quickly. Plenty of pace and verticality in Marcelino's set-up.
Dos Santos is given a long ball to chase, but the Mexico international is caught offside. Dani Alves swings in a cross from deep, but Gabriel nods it behind for an early Barca corner. Messi receives it short from Xavi, but the Argentine's eventual near post delivery is cleared.
It remains to be seen how Barcelona will perform tonight, given the circumstances surrounding the club and their loss. The majority of the players were visibly moved during the minute of silence, with Busquets in particular openly crying.
We are underway in the first half! Barcelona will be hoping to give their supporters something to cheer about, after a horrible fortnight which has seen both poor results and the loss of a great player and coach. The silence, of course, was impeccably observed by all.
Plenty of banners of respect for Tito Vilanova adorn El Madrigal, hung from the stands in both the home and away sections of the stadium. After losing his battle with cancer, football really has lost a great man at such a young age, who led Barcelona to a league title and integrally contributed to many years of success at Camp Nou. A minute's silence before the game and then we get down to the less important matter of football.
Ten minutes until kick-off, so be sure to stick around for all of the action, as Villarreal bid to stay in touch with the Europa League places, while Barcelona try to hold onto Atletico's coattails. Both sides have only managed two wins from their last five fixtures, but the Blaugrana may have turned a corner after their victory over Bilbao. The 2-1 comeback at Camp Nou ended a run of three consecutive defeats.
Barcelona substitutes: Montoya, Fabregas, Song, Afellay, Tello, Sergi Roberto, Oier.
Barcelona starting line-up: Pinto; Alves, Bartra, Mascherano, Adriano; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Alexis, Messi, Pedro.
Villarreal substitutes: Pantic, Uche, Aquino, Jaume Costa, Oliver Torres, Jonathan Pereira, Juan Carlos.
Villarreal starting line-up: Asenjo; Mario, Musacchio, Gabriel, Jokic; Bruno, Pina; Dos Santos, Trigueros, Cani; Perbet.
TEAM NEWS: Adriano and Pinto remain enforced changes due to the injuries to Valdes and Alba, with Marc Bartra continuing to partner Mascherano in defence. Pedro and Alexis are deployed on either side of a 4-3-3 formation, with Messi the lone central forward man. Afellay is back on the bench for the visitors after a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Neymar is out injured.
TEAM NEWS: Perbet leads the line once again for the hosts, with the Frenchman boasting a reasonable goal total for the campaign thus far. Giovani dos Santos features from the start after being used as a second-half substitute against Malaga, with the usual holding midfield duo of Bruno and Pina kept intact. Jokic returns to fill in at left-back, while Uche may feature from the substitutes bench.
Earlier this week, Spanish football lost one of its great coaches, as Tito Vilanova tragically passed away. The former Barcelona boss has since received glowing tributes from around the footballing world, with heaps of flowers left in respect to him at Camp Nou. There will be a minute's silence held in respect of Vilanova before tonight's match, with Barca's players also sporting black armbands.
I'm Simon Harrison and I will be keeping you up to date with all of the action, as Villarreal attempt to stay in touch with Real Sociedad, who occupy the final Europa League spot. Marcelino's men have suffered through patchy form since the turn of the year, with only two wins in their last five matches not very becoming of an outfit with European aspirations.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of La Liga's evening kick-off, as Barcelona travel to El Madrigal to face Villarreal, hoping for three points to keep their slim title chances alive. It hasn't been a good couple of weeks for the Blaugrana, but a respectable comeback against Athletic Bilbao last time out may have sown the seeds for tonight's visitors to end the season with a flourish.
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