Late charge carries Barcelona past Villarreal

Villarreal, Spain, Nov 27 (EFE).- Barcelona won away from home for the first time since club legend Xavi Hernandez took charge as coach, downing Villarreal 3-1 here Saturday thanks to late goals from Memphis Depay and Philippe Coutinho.

The Blaugrana have posted two wins and a draw in their three LaLiga matches with Xavi at the helm and they are now seventh with 23 points, 7 behind leaders Real Madrid, who will be in action Sunday against third-place Sevilla.

Villarreal, meanwhile, remain 12th in the table on 16 points from 14 matches.

The visitors dominated the opening minutes and only a heroic effort by goalkeeper Gero Rulli prevented Abde Ezzalzouli from giving Barça the lead in the 5th minute.

Gavi fired wide five minutes later and Depay inexplicably missed when he found himself alone in front of Rulli at the 20-minute mark.

Villarreal worked their way into the game and Arnaut Danjuma forced a stop from visiting keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the 39th minute.

Barcelona broke through just three minutes into the second half as Frenkie de Jong pounced on a loose ball after Rulli swatted away a shot from Depay.

The pace slowed for a while after the goal, but the contest regained urgency after late sub Samuel Chukwueze brought Villarreal level in the 76th minute following a quick throw-in.

The hosts managed to keep Barça largely bottled up in their own end until the 88th minute, when Villarreal’s Pervis Estupiñan misplayed a deep kick from Ter Stegen and Depay got around Rulli to put the visitors up 2-1.

Coutinho added a third goal in stoppage time, converting a penalty after drawing a foul from Juan Foyth in the 18-yard box.

EFE ag/dr

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