De Jong, Ter Stegen give Barcelona the win vs. Mallorca
Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Jan 2 (EFE).- Barcelona overcame a spate of Covid infections and injuries to garner three very valuable ranking points on Sunday in its road match against Mallorca with a goal by Luuk de Jong in the first half and a great stop by goaltender Marc-Andre Ter Stegen in stoppage time to save the win.
The road victory, obtained amid great suffering, gets the Catalonian squad a step closer to Champions League play and leaves Luis Garcia Plaza’s men teetering near the relegation zone.
It was just the second win in 19 outings for Barca away from Camp Nou – they also beat Villarreal – but the Covid- and injury-plagued team came out better than Mallorca, who had four men out, including Takefusa Kubo, who was not even on the bench.
Right from the start, however, Barca dominated the match, blocking Mallorca into their own half of the field and not allowing them to maneuver, and they did not even get close to Ter Stegen’s goal for the first 20 minutes, although admittedly the visitors could not create much danger either.
But just two minutes before the end of the first half, De Jong connected with a header after a centering pass by Mingueza for the lone tally of the match.
After the break, Barca played more conservatively, but that was all they needed despite the fact that Mallorca was more daring, trying to take advantage of any mistakes, but generally coming up empty.
Just before the end of stoppage time, Ter Stegen handled a point-blank shot by Jaume Costa that could have tied things up, thus emerging as the hero of the day in a result that leaves Barca just one point away from a Champions League berth.
The match at Visit Mallorca Estadi, formerly known as Son Moix, was played before just 14,654 fans, given that – as per gathering restrictions implemented because of the recent sharp rise in coronavirus cases – attendance had been cut to 75 percent of maximum capacity.
Mallorca: Reina; Maffeo, Russo, Valjent, Costa; Antonio Sanchez (Jordi Mboula, min. 70), Baba (Ruiz de Galarreta, min. 60), Battaglia (Abdón Prats, min. 84), Dani Rodriguez; Kang-in Lee (Llabres, min. 70), Angel (Fer Niño, min. 60).
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Araujo (Lenglet, min. 75), Pique, Eric Garcia; Mingueza; Riqui Puig, Nico (Alvaro Sanz, min. 70), Frankie de Jong; Ilias (Estanis, min. 80), Luuk de Jong, Jutgla.