Barca welcome Xavi with three-goal collapse, Real Madrid edge Rayo

Barca welcome Xavi with three-goal collapse, Real Madrid edge Rayo

Celta Vigo scored in the 96th minute to complete a stunning comeback in La Liga on Saturday, erasing Barcelona’s three-goal half-time lead on the day Xavi Hernandez was appointed coach.

Real Madrid then held off Rayo Vallecano’s comeback to win 2-1 and reclaim first place in La Liga, two points ahead of Real Sociedad, who play Osasuna on Sunday. Late in the game, Radamel Falcao gave Rayo hope.
“We had a lot of chances to finish the game, and when they scored, we suffered,” Ancelotti explained. “But I’m content. It was our best performance of the season up until their goal.”

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Another disappointing result for Barcelona was exacerbated by another injury to Ansu Fati, who had put his team ahead only to be forced off with a hamstring injury. Barcelona led 3-0 after 34 minutes at Balaidos thanks to goals from Sergio Busquets and Memphis Depay, but Celta stormed back, with Iago Aspas scoring twice either side of a Nolito header to seal a 3-3 draw.

“In the second half, we forgot how to play,” Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong said. “We lacked character.”

With 95 minutes and 34 seconds left on the clock, Aspas equalized with a brilliant shot from the edge of the area, leaving the Barcelona players crumpled on the floor.

It is now Xavi’s responsibility to pick them up, with the team’s new coach watching from Barcelona, where he had arrived three hours before kickoff.

The 41-year-old had flown from Doha after his sensational return to the club was confirmed in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Xavi will have been unsurprised by Barcelona’s chaotic defending and inability to manage a game when they appeared to be in command.
Fati’s hamstring injury, on the other hand, will be a concern, especially with a crucial Champions League match against Benfica scheduled for November 23, shortly after the international break.

Eric Garcia was also forced off due to a calf strain, and Nico Gonzalez appeared to be in pain when he was replaced before the hour.

“It’s not an excuse, but the injuries meant we had to change the entire strategy of the game and the players,” Sergi Barjuan said after his final match as interim manager.

“Looking at the lineup, you’re playing kids. We were relying on children. We are stronger when we work together.”

Fati’s absence would be a blow for both Barcelona and Spain, who will be without the 19-year-old for crucial World Cup qualifiers against Greece and Sweden next week.

It all started so well for Fati and Barcelona, who took the lead in the fifth minute with a goal from nowhere. Fati drifted in from the left and squared up Celta right-back Hugo Mallo.

Fati shaped to the left towards the line before returning to his right and bending a shot into the far corner.

Fati injury

It was two minutes later three minutes later two minutes later two Nico darted down the left and found Busquets, who shifted across the penalty area and slotted a shot inside the post.

Barcelona appeared to be safe when Depay headed in Jordi Alba’s cross at the near post, but Fati collapsed and Garcia was replaced at halftime by Ronald Araujo.

Celta were transformed following the break. Marc-Andre ter Stegen should have held Franco Cervi’s cross, and Araujo should have cleared after he spilled it. Instead, he scooped the ball up and passed it to Aspas, who finished.

Nolito was found to have controlled the ball with his hand before cushioning a shot into the corner, but Celta were unfazed. Cervi crossed and Nolito came in after Busquets was dispossessed.
Celta had 16 minutes to find an equalizer, followed by five minutes of injury time, but Aspas scored in the sixth minute.
Javier Galan teed him up from the left, but Aspas still had a lot to do, wrapping his left foot around the ball and whipping it right, past Ter Stegen’s hand and in.
Madrid was also at ease after Kroos and Benzema put them two goals ahead of Rayo Vallecano at halftime. Kroos finished Marco Asensio’s pass before Benzema tapped in David Alaba’s inch-perfect cross. But Madrid became complacent, and Rayo took advantage, Bebe hitting the post before Falcao, who came on as a substitute, headed in his fifth goal in eight appearances for the club he joined on a free transfer in the summer.

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