Gundogan salvages three points for Barca with late penalty

Sports Desk, Jan 5 (EFE).- Ilkay Gundogan scored from a penalty in the extra time of the second half to hand Barcelona a scrappy 1-2 win over Las Palmas and keep their LaLiga title defense alive on Thursday.

The holders of the league had little choice but to win to keep their campaign on track after Real Madrid and Girona both won their respective matches of the round to stay firmly on top of the table.

Barcelona, 10 points behind the leaders before the start of the contest, closed the gap now owing to the German midfielder who smashed home from the center of the box after he was fouled by Daley Sinkgraven, an action that also resulted in a red card for the Dutch left-back of Las Palmas.

Xavi Hernandez’s men suffered in an insipid first half, in which they did not know how to respond to their rival’s advanced defense and repeatedly fell into the offside trap.

Added to the woes was the early loss of Joao Cancelo, who suffered an injury to his left knee, forcing Jules Kounde to move to the right and Andreas Christensen to take the position of central defender.

Just one minute after the change in Barcelona’s defense, Mika Marmol combined with Javi Munoz to help Sandro Ramirez put a low cross for Munir El Haddadi, and the former Barcelona marksman scored without much trouble.

Barcelona went into the break without any shots on goal and were badly in need of finding a solution in the second half.

Raphinha shot high in what was Barça’s first attempt of the entire match in the 52nd minute, shortly before Ferran Torres grabbed the equalizer, almost in a bizarre circumstance.

After Saul Coco’s clearance hit Robert Lewandowski violently, the ball fell inside the area, where Sergi Roberto touched it for Ferran, who placed it low.

The goal appeased the urgencies of a Barça that gained confidence while the game began to feel very long for Las Palmas because they had not only lost their advantage but also control of the game.

Xavi handed Vitor Roque his debut 12 minutes from time in further boost for Barca before the Gundogan goal completed their comeback.

“It was an uphill struggle for much of the night,” Xavi said after the match.

“Nobody has managed to beat Las Palmas this season after conceding first, but we managed to do it. There’s merit in that, and it was especially thanks to our brilliant second half.”

Athletic Bilbao beat Sevilla 2-0 with goals from Mikel Vesga and Aitor Paredes in the other match to stay in fourth place in the table.


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