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Barcelona v Espanyol Live Commentary, 31/12/22

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Marcos Alonso (7)
Joselu (73 pen)
Spotify Camp Nou


We hope you enjoyed our coverage of an action-packed Catalan Derby. That's all from us, we hope to see you next time!
Barcelona drop points for just the third time this season, as their local rivals inch one point clear of the bottom three by claiming a huge result. Xavi's team will certainly see this result as a setback, and they will likely be furious with the chaotic refereeing of the closing stages.
And breathe. A fiery Catalan Derby ends all square, and though Barcelona will end 2022 top of LaLiga courtesy of goal difference, Xavi's men are denied the victory they craved. The Blaugrana looked to be in total control after Alonso headed them into an early lead, but the defender went from hero to villain by conceding a penalty, converted by Joselu. From there, referee Lahoz completely lost control of the game, showing red cards to Alba and Souza, and overturning a sending-off for Cabrera. An action-packed game finishes 1-1.
90' + 10' Fernandez claims the ball from a right-wing cross, and that will surely be that!
90' + 10' BARCELONA ALMOST WIN IT AT THE DEATH! Lewandowski flicks a left-wing cross towards the near post, and it gets a slight deflection as it flashes past Fernandez's goal. Barca have a corner...
90' + 8' Torres tries to link up with Dembele, but the former's pass runs out of play. Will Barca get another chance?
90' + 7' We make that 15 players booked in a chaotic Catalan Derby, as Barca look to break down the right...
90' + 6' Yet another yellow card is shown by Lahoz, this time to Barca coach Xavi.
Javi Puado
Yellow Card
90' + 6' Puado is the next man into the book after chopping Dembele down outside the box. That was a reckless challenge, and it wouldn't have been a surprise to see a card of another colour.
Arnau Tenas
Yellow Card
90' + 5' Another substitute incurs Lahoz's wrath, as Tenas is booked.
90' + 3' An Espanyol corner comes to nothing, before Balde flashes a wild cross beyond everyone at the other end. This match is stretched now, and there will surely be one more big chance...
Aleix Vidal
Brian Oliván
90' + 2' Vidal replaces Olivan, who provoked those chaotic scenes with his foul on Lewandowski, as Espanyol look to waste some precious seconds.
90' There will be nine minutes of stoppage time here! Will we get a winner?
Rubén Sánchez
Óscar Gil
90' Espanyol make another change as Sanchez replaces Gil. Can they hang on to deny Barcelona victory?
88' After a below-par 70 minutes, this match has suddenly burst into life! To recap, the two Catalan rivals are each playing with 10 men after Lahoz showed second yellow cards to Alba and Souza, but Cabrera survived what looked like an intentional kick at Lewandowski following a VAR review.
87' WHAT A DOUBLE SAVE! Fernandez denies Christensen with an acrobatic stop, diving to his right to turn a header away! Moments later, Lewandowski was released through on goal, but the Espanyol goalkeeper made himself big to make another crucial save! Incredible goalkeeping!
M. Braithwaite
86' Braithwaite won't last the 90 minutes on his return to Barca, Simo is on in his place.
83' ESPANYOL ARE SHOWN ANOTHER RED, BUT VAR OVERTURNS IT! This is absolutely incredible. Having sent off Souza, Lahoz showed a straight red card to Cabrera for what appeared to be a kick at Lewandowski. However, the referee is called to the VAR monitor, and after watching several replays of the incident, he withdraws the card! It's 10 v 10 at Camp Nou!
Alejandro Balde
Sergi Roberto
82' Amid the chaos, Kounde replaces Roberto at right-back.
Yellow Card
81' Yellow Card José Luis Sanmartín Mato
80' ANOTHER RED CARD! IT'S 10 AGAINST 10 HERE! Souza is shown a second yellow card for Espanyol in the aftermath of a foul on Lewandowski, which provoked a chaotic confrontation between both teams! Espanyol have squandered their numerical advantage!
79' Wow. Barcelona appeared to be in complete control of this match, but a clumsy intervention from Alonso helped Espanyol get back on level terms before Alba talked himself into a red card! Out of nowhere, Espanyol are in the ascendency!
78' RED CARD! BARCELONA HAVE LOST THEIR LEAD, AND THEY'VE NOW LOST ALBA! Lahoz continues to flash his yellow card, and Alba has talked himself into a second booking after Espanyol were awarded a free-kick! The Barca defender was in conversation with the referee while setting up a defensive wall for the kick, and he's clearly said something Lahoz didn't like!
Yellow Card
76' Pedri now becomes the fifth player booked in a matter of moments following a foul in midfield. Lahoz has lost control of this fixture.
Ferran Torres
Yellow Card
75' This is remarkable! Straight from kick-off, Barcelona attack and Torres goes down in search of a penalty. The referee has a long look... and books him for diving!
Edu Expósito
Yellow Card
74' Exposito is also cautioned for his role in an altercation between both sets of players.
Jordi Alba
Yellow Card
74' Alba is shown a yellow card amid the jubilant celebrations from Espanyol, which appear to have riled several Barca players.
Vinicius Souza
Yellow Card
73' Souza has followed his team-mate into the book! Lahoz has a reputation for wielding his cards easily, and he's doing so again here!
Penalty Goal
73' JOSELU SCORES! 1-1! Espanyol have barely mustered a chance in this game, but Joselu has levelled things up with his eighth goal of the season! The striker rolls his spot-kick straight down the middle, and Ter Stegen makes a despairing dive to his right. Game on!
71' PENALTY TO ESPANYOL! Out of absolutely nowhere, Espanyol have a golden chance to level things up! Alonso is the culprit, stepping on Joselu's heel as the visiting striker chased his own flick inside the Blaugrana area. It initially looked soft, but the defender definitely clipped Joselu there!
69' Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz, who was criticised for his performance in the World Cup quarter-final between Argentina and the Netherlands, is deep in conversation with the Espanyol coaching staff as Roberto avoids a booking for a tactical foul to halt a visiting break.
67' Lewandowski tries to find De Jong with an intricate ball in beyond, but it runs long. Barca haven't really got going in the final third in this game, but they are yet to concede a genuine chance at the other end.
65' Torres makes a run to the near post to meet De Jong's kick, but his header is both high and wide.
64' Dembele's first involvement sees him skip past three challenges with an electrifying run down the right. The winger's cross is then turned behind for a corner.
63' Dembele has gone out to his familiar right-wing position for Barca, with Torres cutting in from the left.
O. Dembélé
62' Dembele is also on for his first appearance since he was withdrawn before half-time by France in the World Cup final. Raphinha goes off.
Ferran Torres
Ansu Fati
62' That stoppage provides a chance for more Barca changes. Torres is on for Fati, who has been kept quiet by Espanyol.
60' Alba is down following a collision with Gil, though the referee doesn't appear to have awarded a foul either way.
59' Ter Stegen pushes a tame shot from Puado away, but the Espanyol wideman was offside anyway.
58' The pattern of the second half is very similar to that of the first 45 minutes. Barca are dominating possession without creating too much in the way of clear-cut chances, with Espanyol unable to gain a foothold.
Javi Puado
Nico Melamed
57' Melamed is also withdrawn, with Puado on in his place.
Edu Expósito
Fernando Calero
57' Espanyol are making a double change here. Having just been booked, Calero is taken off for Exposito.
56' GOOD CHANCE! Lewandowski may feel he should have done better there! Roberto keeps a deep free-kick alive on the right before cutting inside to deliver a left-footed cross. Lewandowski nods it narrowly wide of the bottom-right corner.
Fernando Calero
Yellow Card
55' Calero is cautioned for a cynical foul on De Jong, who was breaking down the left wing after Espanyol clumsily conceded possession in midfield.
53' Raphinha leads a promising Barca break after De Jong mops up a long throw-in at the other end. However, the Brazilian overruns it and hands the visitors possession.
Sergio Busquets
52' Busquets is the first substitute to enter the fray in this Catalan Derby, replacing Gavi in midfield. Xavi will hope the 18-year-old has avoided any lasting damage.
50' Worrying signs for Barca as Gavi appears to be holding his back. Busquets is warming up and looks set to replace his Spain team-mate.
49' Danger! Roberto darts in from the right to meet De Jong's crossfield ball and turn it across the six-yard box. However, no Barca player can get there, and it goes behind for a goal-kick.
48' Lewandowski is tripped by Souza as the striker looked to break into the Espanyol half following a neat flick towards De Jong. The visiting player escapes without a booking, however.
47' Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 23 LaLiga matches when leading at half-time (W21, D2) dating back to a 2-1 defeat against Granada last April. Are the Blaugrana set to finish 2022 at the top of the league?
46' Espanyol get the ball rolling for the second half!
Espanyol are in dire need of the points, but have done little to suggest they can threaten Xavi's team here. Melamed has looked their brightest spark, while Braithwaite has been quiet on his Camp Nou return. Barca, meanwhile, will want the security of a second goal, and the introductions of Dembele and Depay surely cannot be far away.
The referee blows for half-time without adding any stoppage time, and Barcelona have a slender lead in the Catalan Derby following a low-key opening period. Alonso's 7th-minute header still separates the teams, and Espanyol will be bitterly disappointed with their defending of the corner which led to the opener. As it stands, Barca are heading top of LaLiga at the end of 2022!
43' The hosts win a free-kick in a left-of-centre position, 35 yards from goal, following a foul on Fati. Raphinha swings it towards the back post, but Christensen's weak header is well wide.
41' For all Barca's dominance of possession, their best chances of the game have tended to come from set-piece situations. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Dembele relatively early in the second half if the game stays like this.
39' Fernandez makes another save to deny Raphinha, though this one is more routine as the Brazil winger fails to generate any power with his side-footed effort.
38' Close! Raphinha fires a powerful effort towards the bottom-right corner, where Fernandez makes an unorthodox save, turning the ball across the face of goal to keep the danger alive. Fernandez then claims a weak left-wing cross to calm things down.
36' Gil overhits a cross from the right wing after beating Alba. Espanyol have had a bit more joy in the last five minutes, but they are yet to test Ter Stegen.
34' Espanyol's corner is cleared by the first man, before Christensen overhits a pass meant for Fati as Barca's break is halted.
33' Good effort! Joselu sprays an excellent ball out to Melamed, who sees his bending shot drop narrowly wide of Ter Stegen's left-hand post. The referee spots a deflection off Roberto, and awards a corner!
L. Cabrera
Yellow Card
31' Cabrera is the next man cautioned for a clear block on Roberto. Espanyol need to regain their composure.
Brian Oliván
Yellow Card
30' Olivan joins Gavi in the book after that incident.
Yellow Card
30' Gavi and Olivan clash in the penalty area before the corner is overhit by De Jong. The referee books both men.
29' Alba sees his cut-back cleared behind for a corner after latching onto Fati's pass. Moments earlier, Raphinha was denied a free-kick on the left wing. Barca are looking to up the ante.
28' Barca have had 76.5 per cent possession so far at Camp Nou, and Espanyol are yet to fashion anything approaching a chance. Xavi will be delighted with the Blaugrana's control of the game.
26' Christensen does well to clear the free-kick, and Fati is fouled as he looks to break. Barca want a yellow card for Olivan, but the referee is unmoved.
Ansu Fati
Yellow Card
25' Fati picks up the first yellow card of the game after appearing to throw an arm towards Gil as he shielded the ball in his own half. That's a needless foul, and it gives Espanyol a right-wing free-kick.
24' The resulting corner is mishit and comes to nothing, but Barca quickly regain possession and look to build from the back again.
23' A dangerous break from Barca ends with Espanyol conceding a corner. Gavi did brilliantly on halfway to send Raphinha clear, but Olivan did well to match the Brazil attacker's pace and make a vital tackle.
22' Raphinha tries a clever reverse ball towards the run of Fati, but he puts too much on it and Espanyol win possession back.
20' Barca win another corner on the left wing, but Espanyol clear before Gil does enough to put Fati off from the second cross.
19' Prior to this contest, Barca had conceded a league-high 60 per cent of their goals this season in the opening 15 minutes of matches (3/5). They have successfully navigated that period here.
18' CHANCE! Barca should be 2-0 up, and Alonso should have a brace! The corner is overhit from the right and evades everyone, but Alba keeps it alive on the opposite touchline before sending a wicked cross towards Alonso. The former Chelsea defender makes poor contact with his right foot, however, sending the ball wide from six yards out.
17' Raphinha sees a low shot deflect well wide of the right-hand post, handing Barca another corner.
16' Roberto eventually clears at the third attempt after Espanyol launch the ball into the hosts' area. The visitors will have to take advantage of situations like that if they are to find a way back into this game.
15' Gavi concedes a cheap free-kick just inside the Barca half, allowing Espanyol to get players forward.
13' More danger for the visitors as Lewandowski reaches the inswinging kick first, but his header is too close to Fernandez.
12' Barca earn another corner as Raphinha's low cross deflects behind. Can Espanyol defend this one better?
10' Alonso has spent much of his first season at Camp Nou playing out of position due to defensive injuries, and he's filling in at centre-back again here. However, the former Chelsea man showed his attacking instincts are still there when he went forward for that corner.
9' Barca are immediately on the attack again after the goal, with Fati cutting inside to fire over the crossbar. Espanyol face a real uphill task now.
A. Christensen
7' Christensen did well to put the ball on a plate for Alonso with a fine header at the back post, but the defending from Espanyol was dire, leaving the centre-back free to pick out his team-mate.
Marcos Alonso
7' GOAL! BARCA LEAD 1-0, AND ALONSO HAS HIS FIRST LEAGUE GOAL FOR THE CLUB! Espanyol defend the resulting corner terribly, with Christensen given a free header at the back post. The Denmark defender nods the ball across the six-yard box, where the unmarked Alonso powers a header home!
6' The first chance of the game goes to Gavi! The 18-year-old latches onto a long ball from Alba, but his finish is too close to Fernandez, who turns it away for a corner.
4' Barca are keeping possession patiently in their own half, with De Jong and Pedri dropping in to keep the ball moving in front of a well-drilled defence.
3' Lewandowski leads LaLiga's goalscoring charts with 13 strikes this season – six of which have been the first of the game. He saw his three-match ban for a red card against Osasuna suspended yesterday – could he make the difference here?
2' An early mix-up in the home defence almost allows Melamed to break through on goal, but the ball eventually runs out of play.
1' After a moment's silence to honour the life of Pele is impeccably observed, Barcelona get their last game of 2022 under way
The teams are out at Camp Nou and kick-off is just moments away!
Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 24 games against Espanyol in LaLiga (W18 D6), their longest run without a defeat against them in the top flight. Their last such defeat came in February 2009 (1-2), a game Xavi played in. Will the Blaugrana continue that remarkable run?
Espanyol are only outside LaLiga's relegation zone on goal difference, and Diego Martinez's men face an uphill task here. Top scorer Joselu, who has seven league goals this term, partners former Barca man Braithwaite in attack.
Xavi's title contenders are without several key players from the start at Camp Nou, with Ousmane Dembele, Memphis Depay, Jules Kounde and Sergio Busquets on the bench following their World Cup exploits. Sergi Roberto captains a side featuring a makeshift backline, while Robert Lewandowski leads the line after seeing his suspension pushed back, much to Espanyol's annoyance.
ESPANYOL SUBS: Joan Garcia, Benjamin Lecomte, Javier Puado, Jose Carlos Lazo, Edu Exposito, Aleix Vidal, Omar El Hilali, Ruben Sanchez, Simo, Daniel Villahermosa, Roger Martinez.
ESPANYOL (5-3-2): Alvaro Fernandez; Leandro Cabrera, Sergi Gomez, Fernando Calero, Brian Olivan, Oscar Gil; Sergi Darder, Vinicius Souza, Nicolas Melamed; Joselu, Martin Braithwaite.
BARCELONA SUBS: Inaki Pena, Arnau Tenas, Hector Bellerin, Ronald Araujo, Sergio Busquets, Ousmane Dembele, Ferran Torres, Memphis Depay, Franck Kessie, Jules Kounde, Eric Garcia, Alejandro Balde.
BARCELONA (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Andreas Christensen, Marcos Alonso, Jordi Alba; Pedri, Frenkie de Jong, Gavi; Ansu Fati, Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha.
Barcelona take on their local rivals Espanyol in their first fixture after the World Cup, looking to return to the top of LaLiga after Real Madrid overtook them with Friday's late 2-0 win at Real Valladolid. Xavi's men have only lost once in the league all season, and will be hopeful of picking up where they left off at Camp Nou.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Barcelona's clash with Espanyol in LaLiga!