Barça salvage draw versus Granada with late goal

Barcelona, Sep 20 (EFE).- A header by defender Ronald Araujo just before second-half stoppage time allowed FC Barcelona to escape with a 1-1 draw here Monday night versus Granada in early-season LaLiga action.

The visitors had held the lead for more than 90 minutes at Camp Nou after Araujo’s counterpart, Portuguese center back Domingos Duarte, headed home for Granada in the second minute of the contest.

Barcelona, who enjoyed most of the possession throughout the match but failed several times in the final third, have now seen their early struggles in the Champions League (a 3-0 loss at home in their opening group-stage match against Bayern Munich last Tuesday) extend to domestic play.

The hometown fans hoping for a quick bounce-back after the Bayern shellacking were stunned when Granada jumped out to an early lead.

On the play, Sergio Escudero sent in an outstanding cross from the left side and found Duarte, who out-maneuvered Frenkie de Jong for the ball at the far post and headed into the back of the net past net minder Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Granada mostly hunkered down defensively after the goal but still managed a couple of other scoring opportunities before the break, one on a volley just over the crossbar by Jorge Molina in the 11th minute and a second on a shot from the edge of the box by Monchu in minute 42.

Barcelona’s best scoring chances in the first half came on a shot by Sergi Roberto that ricocheted off the crossbar in the 17th minute and an athletic header by Araujo that forced Granada goalkeeper Luis Maximiano to make a diving save just before first-half stoppage time.

Ronald Koeman sent on Dutch forward Luuk de Jong for Sergi Roberto at the start of the second half to bolster Barcelona’s attack, but it was Araujo once again who came close to knotting the score at 1-1 with a header off a corner kick in the 55th minute.

With Philippe Coutinho ineffective in attack and Memphis Depay unable to get anything past Maximiano, the Barcelona head coach opted to insert defender Gerard Pique as a center forward with just over 15 minutes remaining.

Barcelona nearly got a goal through the air in the 79th minute when De Jong botched a clear chance on a header, but they finally tied the game on a Araujo header off a pass from 17-year-old second-half substitute Gavi Paez.

Nearly a dozen yellow cards marred the end of the match and Barcelona’s fans voiced their displeasure with the home side.

But in the end the seventh-place Catalans managed a draw and remain undefeated in LaLiga (two wins and two draws) after four games of the new season.

“I think we had a strong game despite giving up the early goal,” Araujo said afterward. “It’s a shame our goal came so late, because maybe if it had come earlier we might have turned the match (in our favor).” EFE


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