Villarreal answer back after first-half goals from Ivan Rakitic and Neymar; Barça extend La Liga lead to nine points
It wasn’t the result FC Barcelona wanted, but they’ll take it.
After riding a 2–0 lead into the intermission, FC Barcelona let Villarreal creep back into the game and even handed them a gift in the form a 63rd-minute own-goal that tied the score, sending both teams into a two-week La Liga hiatus with a single point that will have to make do.
For the Catalans, that point allows them to extend their league lead over second-place Atlético Madrid to nine.
Ivan Rakitic and Neymar both scored in the first half to stake Barça out to a 2–0 lead, but Villarreal drew level after the break on Cédric Bakambu’s 57th minute strike followed by an own-goal off the chest of FC Barcelona defender Jérémy Mathieu.
Although the draw snaps FC Barcelona’s 12-game winning streak in La Liga, their overall unbeaten streak remains intact and now stands at 39 games.
Villarreal — fighting for the league’s fourth position and a seat at the table for next season’s UEFA Champions League preliminary play-offs — came close to scoring in the opening minute when a three-player collision in front of the Barça goal sent a Roberto Soldado cross off the post before it was pounced on by goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
FC Barcelona took a 1–0 lead on the stroke of 20 minutes when a Lionel Messi free kick from 30 metres caromed off Luis Suárez’s back and fell straight to the unmarked Ivan Rakitic, who slotted in through a thicket of Villarreal defenders from the left of the penalty spot.
Villarreal manager Marcelino was sent to the grandstand in the 24th minute after inveighing against the referee for withholding what would have been Gerard Piqué’s second booking of the day for controlling the ball with his arm. Minutes before, however, television replays had shown that Piqué’s first booking for the same infraction was unwarranted.
Neymar gave Barça a 2–0 lead in the 41st minute after he was brought down inside the penalty area by Asenjo. The Brazilian lined up the penalty kick and, after a long approach to the ball, outfoxed Asenjo with a soft, ‘Panenka’-style shot that floated softly into the middle of the net.
The Yellow Submarine finally got on the scoreboard in the 57th minute. Denis Suárez’s initial shot was saved by Bravo, but the rebound came out too far and Bakambu cleaned up.
Neymar had a sublime opportunity to extend Barça’s lead in the 62nd but was stoned by an outstretched Asenjo.
Villarreal drew level a 2–2 in the 63rd as FC Barcelona defender Jérémy Mathieu inadvertently redirected a corner kick into the net for an own-goal.
FC Barcelona’s next game comes in two weeks, when they host Real Madrid at Camp Nou on Saturday, 2 April at 8.30pm CET.
FC BARCELONA U19 A, 2
RCD ESPANYOL, 3
U19 A: Iñaki, Montes(Morer min 63), Arnau, Juanma, Enric, Ferran, Pérez, Paik (Carbonell min 57) Mujica, Aleñá (Cucurella min 72), Lee (Chendri min 57).
Espanyol: Edu, Gonzalo, Aaron, Lluís, Álex, Melendo, Jordán (Pedrosa min 81), Martí (Nacho min 86), Puado (Marcel min 90), Campuzano, Bermejo (Cristofher min 73).
Goals: 0-1 Campuzano (min 14), 1-1 Enric (min 31), 1-2 Puado (min 48), 2-2 Mujica (min 56), 2-3 Campuzano (min 71)
Referee: Alejandro Fernández Pérez
FC Barcelona under-19s suffered defeat against rivals RCD Espanyol (3-2) to bring their unbeaten run of six matches to an end.
Despite Barça having the best chance of the opening stages through Mujica, it was Espanyol who took the lead on 14 minutes with a fine solo goal from Victor Campuzano.
On 31 minutes however, Barça were back on level terms. Paik set up Enric Franquesa who lashed home the equalizer.
Espanyol keeper Edu Frías denied Carles Pérez on 47 minutes and the visitors took full advantage on the counter. Javi Puado, an ex-Barça player, gave his side the lead after a finish out of the reach of Iñaki (1-2).
For the second time in the game, Barça drew level with a fine chip from Mujica, atoning for the chance he missed at the start of the match to give the home side renewed hope of possibly going on to earn their sixth win in seven games.
However, it was not to be for Barça, as it was the visitors who would have the final say in a topsy-turvy derby. Campuzano grabbed his second of the game to put an end to a fantastic run from Barça’s youngsters, which will keep them in fourth position in the table.
Xavi Llorens’ side picked up a big three points to move within a solitary point of the top of the table
FC Barcelona Women earned a 3-0 win on the road against Transportes Alcaine to move within a point of top spot.
Xavi Llorens’ side entered the field of play with purpose, as Olga García and Melanie Serrano went close early on. Alexia Putellas then spurned a one-on-one opportunity but the goal was just a matter of moments away.
Jenni Hermoso latched onto an Olga assist to give Barça a deserved lead before the interval. The pair had been causing havoc throughout the first half and the opener had been coming for some time.
There was no change in attitude after the break, as the Barça onslaught continued. It was Bárbara Latorre’s turn to see a couple of efforts go begging before Patri Guijarro went close. Just when it looked as though another goal would never come, two arrived in quick succession to put the game beyond any doubt, through Irene del Río and Bárbara Latorre.
The victory was made even more significant by the fact that league leaders Athletic Club lost for the first time this season, 2-0 away to Rayo Vallecano, to leave Barça within a point of the top.
Transportes Alcaine: Patricia, Claudia (Maren, min 54), Natalia, Marta, Nuria (Alba, min 71), Teresa, Sandra, Lucia, Clara, Lara, Naina.
FCB Femení: Ràfols, Marta Torrejón, Ane (Patri, min 57), Ruth, Melanie, Marta Unzué, Miriam, Gemma (Irene, min 57), Alexia, Jenni, Olga (Bárbara, min 57).
Goals: 0-1, Jenni (min 26); 0-2, Irene (min 76); 0-3, Bárbara (min 78).
Referee: Alberto Almenara Martínez
Stadium: Estadio Pedro Sancho.
The big local derby takes place at Ciutat Esportiva with three crucial points on the line
FC Barcelona U19 A take on RCD Espanyol for Week 26 of the domestic league at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper at 12.00pm CET.
Luis Enrique and his eighteen players staying the night in Castellon before heading to El Madrigal on Sunday afternoon for the 4.00pm CET kick-off
Unveiling Nike uniforms
For this trip, Luis Enrique and his players are wearing the new travel outfits designed by Nike. Take a look at the new FC Barcelona lifestyle collection.
The FC Barcelona first team have arrived in Castellon for their 4.00pm CET kick-off against Villarreal on Sunday. The squad of eighteen left Barcelona on a 50 minute flight, to be followed by an overnight stay in Castellon, which is about 8km away from the city where the game will be played at El Madrigal stadium.
The players are being joined on the trip by board members Pau Vilanova, Oriol Tomàs and Xavier Vilajoana, as well as director of football Raúl Sanllehí, who will be joining senior representatives of the host club for lunch on Sunday.