Xavi’s reign as the Barca manager commenced with a vital win against local rivals Espanyol at the Camp Nou on Saturday. Memphis Depay’s second-half penalty was the difference as the home side got the three crucial points, which saw them jump up to the sixth position.
The match started brightly for Barca as they dominated possession and created chances to open the scoring. The first shot came from Depay, who volleyed the ball from outside the box. 17-year-old debutant Ilias Akhomach had the best chance for Barca in the first half, though he was unable to keep his shot on target. For Espanyol, their only sniff of the goal in the opening 45 mins was when Raul de Tomas’s shot was deflected by Pique over the crossbar.
Barca continued their pressure in the second half and got their reward when the referee pointed to the spot after Depay was caught by a sliding tackle from Cabrera. The Dutch superstar, then, slotted the penalty past Diego Lopez to give the home side the vital lead in front of the nearly 75000 fans at the stadium.
After conceding, Vicente Moreno’s side started to take more risks and maintained a high line. Barca, though, were unable to double their advantage and were a bit fortunate with Espanyol missing some gilt-edged opportunities in the last quarter of the match. Raul de Tomas hit the post twice, and Dimata missed a sitter as the Blaugrana held on for their first league win in over a month.
Xavi confirms Barcelona will need more work after difficult win
Xavi in his post-match interview said,
"“We really did struggle, it’s still early days and there are things we can improve on. I’m happy with the attitude but they did have some clear cut chances.”Source- Barca Blaugranes"
Barca’s next assignment would be facing Benfica on Tuesday night at the Camp Nou, with a win securing their place in the knockout stages.