Roque fires Barca to narrow win over Osasuna

Roque fires Barca to narrow win over Osasuna

© AFP 2022
January 31, 2024 at 8:03 PM
Barcelona's Brazilian forward Vitor Roque celebrates scoring the opening goal against Osasuna at the Olympic Stadium
Barcelona's Brazilian forward Vitor Roque celebrates scoring the opening goal against Osasuna at the Olympic Stadium. Photo: LLUIS GENE / AFP
Source: AFP

Barcelona ground out a 1-0 win over Osasuna to move third in La Liga on Wednesday as Xavi Hernandez started his farewell as coach of the champions.

The coach said he was stepping down at the end of the season after a heavy defeat last weekend which left the Catalans 11 points behind league leaders Girona.

Barcelona cut that down to eight with a largely drab win over their mid-table visitors, earned by young Brazilian striker Vitor Roque's first goal for the club.

Osasuna had defender Unai Garcia sent off for two yellow cards but Barcelona could not put the game to bed.

The Catalans also trail second-place Real Madrid by seven points despite playing one extra match.

After leading Barcelona to La Liga glory last season, Xavi's team crumbled and in January were thrashed in the Spanish Super Cup final by Real Madrid and knocked out of the Copa del Rey.

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Xavi insisted he would fight on to try and win La Liga and the Champions League, hoping his decision would change the team's dynamic but the first-half performance was as uninspired as any in his two-year tenure.

The coach brought Ferran Torres back into the side after Saturday's 5-3 defeat by Villarreal, the final straw which saw him announce his future exit.

However the Spaniard limped off after just a few minutes and was replaced by midfielder Fermin Lopez.

Robert Lewandowski headed wide and Jules Kounde nodded over from Ilkay Gundogan corners, before Lopez's cross-turned-shot was saved by Aitor Fernandez from a tight angle.

Explosive 16-year-old winger Lamine Yamal, starting his fourth game in 11 days for Barca, swung in a superb cross which Gundogan sent narrowly wide with a flicked header when he should have scored.

It brought the chilly Olympic Stadium to life, with some fans chanting Xavi's name and the coach sent on Roque.

The 18-year-old was almost immediately on the scoresheet, netting his first goal for the club with a header at the near post from Cancelo's superb cross.

Roque's next involvement was to draw a foul from Garcia, who was dismissed for dragging the striker down.

Barcelona capitalised on the extra space with Yamal stretching the defence and drawing a save from Fernandez, with his follow-up effort blocked too.

Substitute Raul Garcia clipped the post with a low effort after Osasuna snatched the ball back high up, which was as close as Jagoba Arrasate's side came.

Lewandowski curled home a second for Barcelona but it was disallowed for a clear offside and the hosts saw out the final stages to keep their three points.

Later Wednesday fourth-place Atletico Madrid host neighbours Rayo Vallecano in a derby, aiming to move back ahead of Barcelona on goal difference.

© AFP 2022 photo
© AFP 2022