Gerard Pique netted a late equalizer as Barcelona salvaged a 1-1 derby draw at Espanyol in the torrential rain.
Gerard Pique scoring an equalizer meant that Barcelona extends their unbeaten start to the La Liga to a club-record 22 games. In the aftermath of his Cornella comments regarding Quique Sanchez Flores’ team, Pique was greeted with loud whistles whenever he was involved in any action during the Catalan derby.
And that whistles and jeers only grew as he netted the equalizer and celebrated with a finger raised to his lips for a strike which saw him scoring his fourth goal at the home of Espanyol. Lionel Messi was left on the Barcelona bench as Paco Alcacer and Philippe Coutinho joined Luis Suarez in the final third of the field, while there was also a start for Lucas Digne at full-back.
Barcelona struggled to deal with the weather and conditions throughout. The visitor’s metronomic passing was halted in the second half of the game as the pitch gave it’s the best impression as a swimming pool. Philippe Coutinho came close to opening his Barca account but his curling shot hit the underside of the crossbar.
Luis Suarez had a couple of half-chances in the opening minutes of action, but neither effort threatened to find the back of the net as Espanyol held firm in the early exchanges of the clash. Moreno’s 66th-minute header had Espanyol dreaming of a repeat of their Copa win over Barcelona, but Pique spoiled all the celebrations when he scored in the 82nd minute of the game.
[B/R UK] |
Barcelona are on their longest ever unbeaten streak in La Liga.
22 games. pic.twitter.com/ofSKrblqrf
— BarcaTimes (@BarcaTimes) February 4, 2018
Ernesto Valverde was proud that his team managed to salvage a draw in such tough conditions. Speaking after the game, Valverde praised his team for adapting their style of play in difficult conditions. Attending the post-game conference, Valverde said: “We fought well and had to change our way of playing because of the circumstances. That’s why we value the draw very much because everything was going against us.
We thought the pitch would be ok, but at halftime, we saw that it could become dangerous. Therefore, we had to try long balls and more strategic plays, but in the end, Piqué’s goal arrived.”
Managing a draw in such tough conditions was really difficult. The ball was not rolling and despite it putting in such an exemplary effort is surely appreciated.