Barcelona arrived at the RCDE Stadium with a chance to break into the third position in the league standings at their begging. The Catalan derby was set to be a grand standoff, with both sides having points to prove.
While Espanyol had not won against Barcelona at home in close to 15 years, the Blaugranas were under the spotlight to perform after their brilliant showing against Atletico Madrid.
Xavi opted for the same lineup that demolished Diego Simeone’s side at Camp Nou. Only Sergino Dest entered as a new face in place of the suspended Dani Alves.
Barcelona made a perfect start to the game. In the first minute of the game, Jordi Alba put a cross into the Espanyol box. Pedri was there to collect and calmly dispatch it into the back of the net.
Despite the tempo of the game being under Barcelona’s control, Espanyol came back into the game soon. With their well-executed counters, the home side made an equal contest and pushed for an equaliser.
Eventually, they did restore parity in the 40th minute. Raul de Tomas cleverly played the ball to Sergi Darder who was lurking just outside the box. The Spaniard sent in a glorious shot past a fully extended ter Stegen.
Ronald Araujo was replaced at half-time for muscular problems, and Eric Garcia made his return. In the 56th minute, Xavi’s side seemed to have restored their lead. A couple of sloppy defensive efforts from the hosts found Gavi with possession. The teenager put the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was called off for an offside touch by De Jong.
The tables turned in the 64th minute. Some awful defending from Eric Garcia saw Raul de Tomas released into acres of space with no competition. The striker made no mistake, pulling the trigger in front of a helpless Ter Stegen.
The game turned ugly with innumerable physical challenges. Barcelona pushed for a goal, but Espanyol defended deep to strangulate the visitors. Gerard Pique was sent off in the 90th minute for a verbal confrontation as he saw a second yellow card.
When all hope seemed lost, the team pulled off a miracle. Ten-man Barcelona pulled off a last-minute equaliser when Adama Traore sent a hopeful cross into the box.
Luuk de Jong found himself unmarked and headed the ball into the goal. The game ended 2-2, as Barcelona hold onto their top-four spot