Wednesday, January 19

Granada 1-1 Barcelona: Xavi’s men lose ground in top four race after last-gasp Puertas equaliser

Granada 1-1 Barcelona: Xavi’s men lose ground in the race for top four as last-gasp Antonio Puertas strike earns hosts a late draw, after Luuk de Jong headed the visitors in front

  • Barcelona conceded an 89th-minute equaliser in their clash with Granada
  • Luuk de Jong headed the Catalans in front just before the hour mark
  • But Antonio Puertas turned home a late leveler to dent their top-four hopes
  • Xavi’s side missed out on the chance to move up into third place in La Liga


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Dani Alves marked his first league appearance for Barcelona since May 2016 with an assist but Xavi’s 10-men team conceded in the last minute to drop two points away at Granada.

It was Alves’ first league game of his second spell at Barcelona and he was back on the same ground he played his last game for them winning his sixth Spanish league title five years ago.

He rolled back the clock with an inspired display and a cross that was headed in by the impressive Luuk de Jong on 55 minutes. But Antonio Puertas scored from distance in minute 89 to secure a point for the home side.

Alves, aged 38 years and 247 days, had become the oldest player to play for Barcelona in La Liga and he was tested early on.

The return of Dani Alves was unable to inspire Barca to victory despite his assist on the night

The return of Dani Alves was unable to inspire Barca to victory despite his assist on the night

The return of Dani Alves was unable to inspire Barca to victory despite his assist on the night

Xavi's men missed the chance to leapfrog three sides up into third place in La Liga

Xavi's men missed the chance to leapfrog three sides up into third place in La Liga

Xavi’s men missed the chance to leapfrog three sides up into third place in La Liga

Carlos Neva went between him and Sergio Busquets in the first minute and won a free-kick which Luis Milla sent wide. Alves was holding his hand up minutes later for another error that again went unpunished.

Barcelona were unperturbed by the shaky start defensively and thought they had taken lead on nine minutes when Ferran Jutgla crossed from the right and De Jong’s clever movement was rewarded when he checked back onside and headed in. The goal was ruled out for an earlier offside against Gabi.

It was cruel on the on-form Dutchman but it lifted Barça and Alves slid in successfully on Jorge Molina – the only player on the pitch older than Alves.

De Jong went close again on 19 minute when Jutgla crossed and the Dutchman went close with a backflick over the top of the crossbar. Ousmane Dembele then slipped a brilliant pass through to De Jong who was blocked by Victor Diaz. 

Luuk de Jong's second-half header looked like proving the winner for the Catalans

Luuk de Jong's second-half header looked like proving the winner for the Catalans

Luuk de Jong’s second-half header looked like proving the winner for the Catalans

But Gavi's late red card for two bookings then gave Granada a route back into the game

But Gavi's late red card for two bookings then gave Granada a route back into the game

But Gavi’s late red card for two bookings then gave Granada a route back into the game

Alves had gone forward for the attack and as Granada tried to break down the left. Gavi dealt with the danger appearing to pull back Milla but got away with it. It was a good job the shirt pull was not seen because he had already been booked.

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Ter Stegen then saved from Darwin Machis who had got the better of Alves again. He went between Alves and Dembele abut Eric came across and blocked well.

Alves was bright going forward though and when he teed-up De Jong the Dutch international jumped over the grounded Victor Diaz and Barcelona had their all important opening goal.

Granada now had little alternative but to look for the goal to get them back in it but Alves was now flying at both ends and his shot-blocking challenge on Molina helped keep them out. Gerard Pique was putting in a big performance alongside Alves and he set Barça off on a counter that substitute Abde almost finished.

Puertas then popped up with the all-important equaliser for the hosts right at the death

Puertas then popped up with the all-important equaliser for the hosts right at the death

Puertas then popped up with the all-important equaliser for the hosts right at the death

Granada snatched a point in the dying minutes to deny Barca a crucial set of three points

Granada snatched a point in the dying minutes to deny Barca a crucial set of three points

Granada snatched a point in the dying minutes to deny Barca a crucial set of three points

The Catalans have lost more ground in their race to secure Champions League qualification

The Catalans have lost more ground in their race to secure Champions League qualification

The Catalans have lost more ground in their race to secure Champions League qualification

Barça were suffering though. They had already lost Eric Garcia to a hamstring injury and Gabi finally picked up that second yellow for a foul on Granada sub Alex Collado. 

Pique then went through Carlos Bacca and although he got the ball it looked like he might also pick up a second yellow. He escaped with just a foul conceded and Barcelona stayed with just a one-man disadvantage.

With the 10 they looked like holding out. Their mix of Barça babies and the old guard – Alves, Pique, Ter Stegen, Busquets and Jordi Alba all played the 2015 Champions League final – had given everything.

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But when they failed to clear the last Granada corner of the game the ball dropped to Puertas and he slammed his shot past Ter Stegen to level.


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